Friday, May 31, 2013

Fri-D: Semipalmated Sandpiper

 [Semipalmated Sandpiper, near Stone Harbor, NJ May 27, 2013. Click to enlarge. Notice the semi-palmations between the toes of the raised foot - and be aware that Western Sandpipers also has these, an adaptation for walking on mud. Not that one can see the feet well enough to use this as a field mark very often anyway. So instead pay attention to the small size, short straight somewhat tubular bill, light breast streaking, scattered rufous feather edgings above, and the fact that its on mud, where semi's prefer to be.]

Evidence of the fact that we pay far too little attention to common species, I realized last week when I wrote the blog post about Western Sandpiper that I have few good photos of the most common sandpiper on the eastern flyway, that being Semipalmated Sandpiper. Last weekend I set out to correct that. And by the way, paid a price, since the kayak route I picked had been altered by Hurricane Sandy, and I wound up paddling until past suppertime around a much enlarged island and over new shallows of unconsolidated sediment, which, as I learned, did not support the weight of a human trying to drag his kayak!

Semipalmated Sandpiper. Know this bird well, as it is a reference point for the other peep.

[A cluster of Semipalmated Sandpipers with a few Semipalmated Plovers thrown in. Compare the back colors of the semis in this flock, huddled on a windy day. Some show more rufous than others, but that's okay, they're all still semis. Heislerville, NJ last week.]

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