An unusual juvenile Lesser Sand Plover

A return visit to Tanjung Tokong on 21 September to try to photograph more Common Redshanks was largely unfruitful, except for this:

IMG_4294'At first glance it looks like a typical late summer breeding plumaged adult Lesser Sand Plover, but it isn’t!

IMG_4289The bird is on the right here, part of a flock which flew in, aiming to land on the mud in front of me. The strongly coloured and demarcated breastband suggests an adult female. However, the trailing edge of the wing looks uniform, in contrast to all the other birds in the photo, all clearly adults, and all in wing moult.

IMG_4290Coming in to land. The bird behind it is a typical worn juvenile, all the others are adults, as can be seen by the state of the primaries and secondaries.

IMG_4293IMG_4293'The bird gives a brief glimpse of the upperwing, showing a pale mid-wing panel formed by neat buff fringes to the median coverts, confirming that it is in fact a juvenile!IMG_4294

Frustratingly, at the critical moment, the flock was ‘spooked’ by something and turned around. Two juveniles at the bottom, three adults above.IMG_4304 IMG_4303

A couple more shots of the upperwing as the flock flew off. The orange on the underparts was amazingly bright, but the uniformly-aged wing feathers and that conspicuous mid-wing panel confirm that that it was a juvenile. I never saw it again, but Hor Kee saw it (again in flight) on 24 September.

24 Sep 2013. (c) Neoh Hor Kee

24 Sep 2013. (c) Neoh Hor Kee

Hor Kee’s rather sharper photo, showing the upperwing details nicely. The  centre bird is the one in question. The bird on the right is an adult, and the bird on the left might be too.

IMG_4297'There was a single Greater Sand Plover in the flock I saw (upper bird). This photo shows why I don’t rate toe projection beyond the tail as a useful field mark to distinguish them from Lessers!

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