Lesser Yellowlegs

Shorebird finders bonanza

Got an email from Derek Charles this morning. Wilton and Derek  enterprisingly headed west over the weekend. To Mayo’s west coast – a favourite old destination of mine. They scored! Finding a fresh (mostly) juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs, and Buff-breasted Sandpiper, as well as picking up Spotted Sandpiper on the Mullet. And Derek takes cool photos. Thanks for the Monday morning grip-off boys!

also see http://nibirding.blogspot.com/

“Give you the usual laugh.When Wilton and I arrived on Achill we took off along the river by the golf course because it looked perfect for yank waders. I ended up on beach on one side of river and I spotted the ‘legs about 300m away and knew it was either a Greenshank or Yellowlegs but I only had bins. So I rang Wilton and he went and got the car but in the meantime I waded straight into the river, in flood with no wellies. A couple on far side thought i was demented which is what it looked like! Anyway a minute later I had the ‘legs in the bag.”

(mostly) juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs. Achill Island, Co. Mayo. September 2010. Derek Charles. The old trick was – if the bill looks about the same length as the tibia (upper half of the ‘leg’) its a Lesser. If the bill is obviously much longer than the tibia. It’s a Greater. Easy no?!

With a couple or more new greyish ‘first winter ‘ feathers on the upperparts – is it technically a juvenile or a first winter? – it’s a bit of discussion that comes round every so often. Writing ” juvenile moulting to first winter plumage” could do with slightly better short hand!

juvenile Spotted Sandpiper. The Mullet, Co Mayo September 2010. Derek Charles.

The greater coverts, scapulars and tertials are particularly plain looking on this one. I can just make out dark subterminal line in the scapulars and pale tips (but plain edges) to greater coverts and tertials – the classic age criteria and best separation from juvenile Common Sandpiper. A quick ageing thing on autumn Spotted Sandpipers though is that adults often still have spots – little ones, especially in the undertail regions.

and another shot from Derek – he didn’t find this one. Didn’t need to- already bagged his autumn find ‘Pec’ in Londonderry earlier in the autumn. Juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper, Tory Island, Co. Donegal. September 2001. Derek Charles.


About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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