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Sun 3rd October 2010

Posted on October 3, 2010 at 5:10 PM

birds : It has been an abysmal week weather-wise, with driving rain and wind - "fit for neither man nor beast" as mum would say. The main bird news of interest was a Common Sandpiper photo that Chris B sent into Birdguides and the website changed its label to Spotted Sandpiper. This was quite a shock to everyone here, but they did this apparently because it had plain tertials and a short primary projection, according to the notes added to the photo. Looking back at Chris's other photos, this bird had been present a few weeks and no-one had noticed anything different and I wasn't convinced from the photos - it just didn't feel like a Spot Sand.

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Anyway, after lots of internet searches, I clearly had to look at the bird and eventually saw it this afternoon after four attempts. It was on the beach by Pulias with 3 Common Sandpipers.

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Spommon Sandpiper, Pulias

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In the end, after seeing the bird in the field and studying photos, I believe it is a Common Sandpiper. Compared to the 3 definite Common Sandpipers it was with this afternoon, fair enough the legs were a touch yellower and the back a touch greyer but this was not obvious - it just did not stand out as very different from the others. I was watching it with Jean and we kept struggling to see which bird it was as they moved quickly about. It was also a struggleto get good photos as it was so fast.

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Above is a photo of the bird (left) with a Common Sandpiper (right). Upperpart tone and leg colour show little difference.

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The bill looked pretty OK for Spot Sand - slightly downcurved, dark tip.

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This photo shows the narrow streaks on the breast which should not be shown by Spotted Sand. 

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A bit more detailon the rear end.

A - There are some missing tertial feathers on both wings - only one is visible above. Although this feather is indeed quite plain, it is not totally plain. There is a thin whitish fringe most of the way round the feather, and there appears to be a few dark marks along the lower edge.

B - The upper greater and median coverts seem to have dark bars on the edge.

C - The primary projection is artificially long because of the missing tertials.

D - The tail projection beyond the wings is quite short which is good for Spotted, but a close look reveals that the two (usually) longest central tail feathers are still growing (arrowed). when these are fully grown, then the tail may be longer.

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The other key feature is the wing bar but I couldn't get a photo of that. We watched the group of sandpipers fly about on a number of occasions, and although its difficult to see with the birds constantly flicking their wings, we failed to see any difference between this bird and the others.

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So a Common Sandpiper for me I believe, but I am happy to hear any opposing arguments.

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And this was easily not the best looking bird on the beach. If you saw the bird below stick its head over the rocks like so, then you'd wonder what the hell you had. It looks totally rare!

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Luckily I saw it when I flushed it and it was thus clearly a leucistic Wheatear, with most of the plumage a stunning orange with white wings and tail, it was very nice indeed.

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leucistic Wheatear, Pulias

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nonsense : After a draw and a win in the league so far, my football team have made a promising start. Yesterday we had an epic cup tie. We were down 3-1 and we pulled in back to 4-3. We thought that was it and so we all piled in for a last minute corner, and there was a handball. So last kick of the match was a penalty to make it 4-4. So another half an hour of extra time, which is not ideal with my aged legs, but we struggled to the end and it went to penalties. It went to the 10th penalty, and they had to score to draw level - and our goalie saves! But, oh no! The referee orders a re-take and they score. Sudden-death : we score, they score, we miss, they score. Boo! Well at least I didn't miss - I was next on the list to take one and so I got away with it.

Categories: 2010 Autumn