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!
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.