The tide was hopeful but the haze was horrendous! Still, it was good to see a selection of juveniles, some of them my first of the season.
The same two birds with the juvenile behind. I wonder if this is just an exceptionally pale individual, or whether there are racial differences in juvenile plumages. The covert and tertial patterns are so different from those on the darker juveniles above. It’s no wonder we find waders confusing sometimes. Confusing, but fascinating!
And another! Two juvenile Eurasian Curlews, but quite a difference in plumage tones. I watched the left hand bird for a long time to check it wasn’t a Far Eastern. I’ve never seen a Eurasian with such buff colouration behind the legs. Note the white vent though. This individual had distinctive dark subterminal marks on the greater coverts. Here’s a real juvenile Far Eatern taken a week earlier in Hong Kong by John and Jemi. Those tranverse bars on the flanks are a reliable feature when in doubt.
This is an adult Far Eastern which I saw on 13 August, my only one so far this autumn. The broad-barred tertials which form a shaggy cloak at the rear end and the plain face lacking any strong contrasts are other distinctive features of Far Eastern (adults at least).
I videoed this adult Eurasian Curlew on 22 Aug. It passes a Whimbrel (much smaller and darker, with a shorter bill), then a Curlew Sandpiper (even smaller!), before crossing paths with a Little Heron and a Common Redshank, and then catching up with another Eurasian Curlew and showing us how it gets a muddy bill! Unlike Whimbrels, they have no need to run after crabs because their bills are long enough to simply pick the creature out of the bottom of its hole. No place to hide!
Juvenile Lesser sand Plovers have been around for almost a month, but it’s not so often that one comes this close to feed. From my observation, Lesser Sand Plovers mainly locate prey by listening for movement.
Ta-daa! So it must be hearing the movement of these small gastropods as they move about in the mud, or perhaps detecting small surface movements by sight.
Judging by the extreme contrast between the fresh and old coverts on this Terek Sandpiper, and the fact that it seems to be missing all its median coverts, I think this must be a one-year old bird moulting from first breeding to second non-breeding plumage.
Here’s something you don’t often see – a “flock” of Common Sandpipers. They looked distinctly suspicious of each other – as if they were wondering “How on earth did this happen?” A Lesser Sand Plover carried on oblivious!