Tanjung Tokong 26 September 2013

This site was where I first saw White-faced aka Swinhoe’s Plovers back in 2006, and in those early years I enjoyed such stellar birds as Chinese Egret, Little Stints, Ruff, Nordmann’s Greenshank and Aleutian Tern.

I also had fun making an assortment of ‘coffin’ hides, like this and this. It really was an ideal wader playground in those days, and I learned much of what I know about waders at that time.

Sadly, now, it’s a shadow of its former glory, and what few waders there are there have to contend with so much filth.

Pacific Golden Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4582Soup of the day? No thanks! A group of Pacific Golden Plovers nervously eyeing my hide.

Pacific Golden Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5916I feel they should really have eyelashes!

Pacific Golden Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5918

Pacific Golden Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5921 Pacific Golden Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5931

Not much gold on this one.

Greater Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5867Hatchet-face! Some Greater Sand Plovers are easy!

Greater Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4703 Greater Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4699 Greater Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4692In flight, it’s best to go with the bill. All the fine details about toe projection, wingbar shape, tail band colour and whether the carpal underside has a dark crescent or not are, in my view a) unreliable and b) superfluous (if you can see the bill). This applies with the nominate race – I have no experience of columbinus. I would say, if you get chance to compare Lesser and Greater in flight side by side, that Greater is distinctly broader-winged.

Greater Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4741

You should be able to spot the Greater Sand here, but not by using toe projection or underwing pattern!

Lesser Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4720

Lesser Sand Plover_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_4641None here though.

wader roost_Tamjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5953This is where the sand plovers have to roost these days.

Common Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5897A few fraternized with the sandpipers!

Common Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5941A juvenile Common came pretty close. It’s amazing how much the plumage has worn in just a few months, exposing the primaries and making the tail look markedly short.Common Sandpiper fresh and worn juv_Tanjung Tokong_220813_260913_IMG_5941

Out of interest, I flipped it around and compared it with a fresh juvenile taken on 22 Aug (above). Barely a month difference, but the tertials and tail give the two birds quite different ‘back-ends’. Since one diagnostic feature of the Nearctic Spotted Sandpiper is a short tail, this is more significant than might be supposed. One other diagnostic feature of juvenile Spotted – a lack of notches on the tertials – cannot be seen on this bird as the edges have worn away. Fortunately (or unfortunately!), the sides of the greater coverts just about show signs of notching, which confirms that this is a juvenile Common Sandpiper.

Common Sandpiper fresh and worn ad_TAT_220813_IMG_4819Adult Common Sandpipers in spring and autumn. The top bird was photographed on 24 April 2013, and the one below on 22 August 2013. The same plumage, just different lighting and amounts of wear and tear. The top bird shows how long the tail ‘should’ be!

Common Redshank_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5910These regularly confuse people. The key thing to take a note of is the pattern of the wing coverts, which is unique to juveniles of this species.

Common Redshank_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5907You knew right? Common Redshank. For some reason waders with distinctively-coloured legs and bill love to get them covered in mud!

Terek Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5893Another ‘Tringa ally’ (like Common Sandpiper) – Terek  Sandpiper. Like all Tringa allies, they fall short in the ‘shank’ (leg) department, but Tereks more than make up for their short legs by their bill, which is loooong, and upturned to boot!

Terek Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5887Terek Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5902I’m hesitant to age this bird, but I’m pretty sure it’s a worn juvenile, judging by the small coverts and nice fresh primaries.

Terek Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5943A different bird having a good scratch. I think this might be an adult in non-breeding plumage. As you can tell, I find these tricky to age.

Terek Sandpipers have a very distinctive call, which you can hear on the video below.

Curlew Sandpiper_Tanjung Tokong_260913_IMG_5934A solitary Calidrid – an adult Curlew Sandpiper – added a bit of colour to an otherwise drab scene.


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