Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spotted Sandpiper

"The more you learn, the less you know" the old saying goes and it easily applies to birding. Just when you think you getting a handle on things, you run across something that makes you realize how much you have to learn.
A week ago last Sunday, I ran across this sandpiper along the pond at Fernhill Wetland. It was savaging in the rocks along the shore. There was enough tall grass between the path and the shore to make for a bit of a hide-and-seek game between me and the bird. With enough patience I was able to get a few good pictures.
I did not recognize it so I was expecting to identify it as a new lifetime bird for me. Unfortunately, I could not find a sandpiper in any of my guides or on the web that looked quite like it. I hate it when that happens. I tried to convince myself that it was a Lesser Yellowlegs, but its legs just weren't long enough.
As I sat perplexed, I thought to myself, "When I run into this kind of problem, what ultimately is the usual answer?" Well, the answer lately has been that it is a juvenile of some familiar bird. As it turns out that could be the answer in this case. To test the theory I decided to search for "juvenile Spotted Sandpiper" on Google as that is what it most looked like, sans breast spots. As it turns out, the juvenile Spotted Sandpiper does not have spots on its breast. However, I also discovered that it is also true that mature birds loose their spots when not breeding. I'm guessing that is what this bird is as other than the missing spots, it looks like other Spotted Sandpipers I have seen and it looks fully mature.
Well, I'm bummed that it isn't a new bird for me, but I have learned something new and that is almost as good.

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