Mystery Sandpiper 8-13-2010

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Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#1
I have been going through old photos stored on hard drives and deleting ones that are bad or repetitive. The process has been very educational as I ponder why a photo was bad and what I can do to take a better one. At the rate I am going, I don't know if I will ever get through them all.

I came across photos of a lone shorebird that I took on 8-13-10 at Shell Creek Spit in Edmonds. The spit can be seen during low tide by looking north up the shoreline from Sunset Ave. or Brackett's Landing. Birds use the spit as a source of fresh water for drinking and bathing.

At first glance the bird looks like a dunlin, but its body seems taller and thinner and its legs seem longer. It also appears to be a lighter color than dunlin that I have photographed in Edmonds, especially in the breast and neck. I wonder if it could be a curlew sandpiper, a native to the Siberian Arctic that closely resemble dunlin. According to the the Audubon Guide to North American Birds, a few curlew sandpipers turn up on the Atlantic Coast every year, but it is only a rare visitor to the rest of North America.
http://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/curlew-sandpiper

There have been reports in Tweeters of sightings of curlew sandpipers in Washington. I would like to hear the opinions of others as to whether this is a curlew sandpiper, just another dunlin, or some other bird. I have more photos, but these are the best. The bird was by itself, so there are no photos of it with other birds for a size reference.

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#2
The coloration and patterns around the face and neck look right, and I believe we can see a slight downturn at the end of the bill. It seems your ID may be correct.

Max
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#3
I received an e-mail from a prominent local birder who believes it is a curlew sandpiper. Several people suggested I submit my photos to the state committee that certifies rare bird sightings (can't recall its official name). I have started that ball rolling.
 

Bill Anderson

Super Moderator
Staff member
#4
I got a reply back from the Washington Bird Records Committee of the Washington Ornitholigical Society (WOS). . They don't believe it is a curlew sandpiper but most likely a stilt sandpiper, citing a number of spotting features.
 


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