Documentation of Western Sandpiper

Observer Information

Reporter:  Linda Andes-Georges  8417 Stirrup Ln.,   LONGMONT, CO  80503-8877
Other Observers:  Jean-Pierre Georges

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Western Sandpiper
First Date/Time:  6/28/2014 11:00:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  6/28/2014 11:01:00 AM
Duration (total time in view):  30-40 sec.
County:  Boulder
Specific Location:  Location Not Listed
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Non-breeding


montane pond

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Leica 8x42, Nikon 8x42
Distance:  30 paces
Light:  excellent: bright, sun at our back

Description of the Bird

First impressions were immediately: longbilled, long-legged peep with long neck! Latter probably because it was mildly startled. It began walking without haste toward the south, watching us, and after a brief (under a minute) time it took flight without vocalizing and landed further to our south on the other side of a vegetated hummock.

We began reciting our observations to each other while watching the bird, and I wrote a few notes while JP got big Sibley out of backpack. I knew to eliminate Spotted, which I've seen numerous times, and also knew from appearance that it was some sort of calidris: the thing that has puzzled our Indian Peaks data compilers is that this bird was not--as far as we could see--in breeding plumage. There was very little contrast between upper & lower body; upper was light tan/brown; lower was dull white with no streaking, spotting or shadowing. We saw no detectable (helpful) field marks except for a barely detectable light eyeline or supercilium. Legs were dark. Bill med. long and straight. Tail shape as it flew away from us the classic calidris w/contrasting light outer tail feathers.

Alas, we had no camera with us (we rarely encounter uncommon birds on these transects, and do not have smartphone).

Similar Species Discussion

Not a Spotted because there were no spots and no dark eyeline. It was not a bigger shorebird because it was relatively small, lacked bill curve or incurve; bill length; contrasty legs; etc.

Using Tony's (excellent recent article on) parsing out likelihood, one has to conclude that in spite of lack of breeding plumage, there are not many other options. We wondered if it had been injured and stayed here since spring... There were no other shorebirds or even ducks (exc. for 2 mallards) in the pond area. This is quite a remote area, though visited by some hikers on weekends.

Resources Used

Just Sibley and a little poking around on the Net. Could not, unfortunately, use aural resources, which I find very helpful; but in the case of shorebirds, this might not have been of great use either.

Previous Experience

Only very rarely. Very little experience with shorebirds other than the usual common ones in migration, or during travel (in CO, CA, NE, Costa Rica, Thailand).


Notes made AFTER observation

Materials Available

No files uploaded.

Date Documentation Submitted

7/10/2014 10:09:00 PM

Location Map

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