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Rick Bowes | profile | all galleries >> All galleries - photos 2012 and earlier >> Miscellaneous Galleries >> Odd peep/calildris sandpiper - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

Odd peep/calildris sandpiper - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012

This sandpiper was feeding with hundreds of shorebirds in the Crescent Beach area of Duxbury Beach. I cannot identify it though it probably is some aberrent plumage of an undersized Semipalmated Sandpiper. The photos are of mediocre quality as they were taken with a 400mm zoom lens at full zoom on a day that was heavily overcast and beset with intermittent showers.

In general, the bird was noticeably smaller than the surrounding Semipalmateds, and though it mingled with them, it didn't move with them when they flushed or started to scurry in one direction or another - it was sort of a loner in a crowd doing its own thing. In addition to its small size I noted that it was much darker than the nearby Semis and thought it was a Least Sandpiper on the first quick scan of the flock. When I came back to it as I started to work through the flock systematically I noticed it was more beige than white and its way of moving wasn't really Least-like. I looked more carefully and noted that the legs were black - definitely not a Least. I also noted that a few flecks were clearly visible on the flanks and that there was a small rusty red area at the base of the upper mandible.

In looking at the books I don't see that any of the stint family has that tan coloration or the rusty spot at the base of the upper mandible. The dark legs eliminate Least Sandpiper. The smaller size, lack of webbing in the feet and flecks on the flanks go against Semipalmated. The bill doesn't fit with Western. Thus I'm stumped and look forward to hearing the thoughts of others with lots more experience than me! I suppose a hybrid could be posited for the various inconsistent features - but I don't think the presence of the overall light beige pigmentation would be explained by hybridization. Whatever it is, the bird seems quite worn, and that probably confuses the issue too. I've put some comments with the individual photos.

Click on first photo below to see photo with notes. To progress through the set, click "next" in the upper right corner above of each picture.
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [1 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [1 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [2 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [2 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [3 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [3 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [4 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [4 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [5 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [5 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [6 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [6 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012  [7 of 7]
Confusing calidris - Duxbury Beach, MA - July 29, 2012 [7 of 7]