Sunday, October 2, 2011

black-bellied plover ~ 10/02/11 ~ Shoreline Park

edited 10/10/11 - I originally posted this as best guess winter plumage western sandpiper (Calidris mauri). However, the larger size and short bill kept bothering me. So, on second thought, I think my last-minute guess was correct and have changed the ID for this post. The belly sure isn't black. For a nice picture of dark axillaries that Neil mentions in his comment, check out Carolina Bird Club. Of course, with the bright sunlight and my poor photographs, it could easily have been a shadow. What confirms the ID for me is the white, patterned-dipped tail tip shown in the second pic. I'm keeping the original post below so I can have notes for the future. I am not going to be a decent birder anytime soon. If anyone believes my ID is something else, please, please comment!

posted 10/09/11 - Shouldn't sandpipers be, you know, found on the sand? These sandpipers were much bigger than I think they should be. In fact, when I first spotted them from a distance I was thinking, "Oh good, a new species of gull for my blog." Ha! Nope. Good golly, Calidris and their relatives are so difficult to distinguish, especially with varying plumage depending on the age and season. Don Roberson lists 16 species of Calidris here in Monterey County. He also has quite a discussion of how western sandpipers are often mistaken for semipalmated sandpipers (Calidris pusilla), which was another possibility I was considering since it has a shorter bill.

ps - Argh! Maybe it's a winter plumage black-bellied plover (Pluvialis squatarola)? That would certainly explain the larger size.


Neil said...

Shorebirds really drive me crazy. But I *think* I see the black armpit ("axillaries" in fancy birder speak) in the bird that was kind enough to open its wings for you in the second photo. If that's not pure imagination on my part then it would be a strong indicator for your Black-Bellied plover ID.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Thank you, Neil. I purposely posted that second picture with hopes someone who knows could see the wing pattern. I'm going to have to look up what axillaries are. I've edited the above. I also sent an e-mail to Don asking his opinion. I try not to bother him too much with my bird ID questions. Although one of these days, he just might get pictorial proof of a rare sighting.

Imperfect and tense said...

Hi, Katie, I read your blog during my lunch break, but as I struggle even with UK waders, I was never going to be able to help with the ID. However, I do know a chap who can AND he'd been to Monterey recently on a whale watching trip. I'll let 'JD' explain in his own words... "No primary projection beyond the tail and the colour on the breast does not extend as far down as American Golden Plover or Pacific Golden Plover. So it most certainly is Black-bellied Plover." I just knew he'd know. Nice pics, you must've got close!

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Well, that's nice to hear that you read my blog during lunch break, Graeme. Once I moved from sandpipers to plovers (I still feel like a doofus for getting them mixed up), I didn't even consider American golden or Pacific golden (which apparently until 1983 were considered races of lesser golden). They are scarce fall migrants here and now would be the time to see them. Thanks for getting JD's confirmation.