Curlew Sandpiper at Merced NWR
I just wanted to fill in some of the gaps on this Curlew Sandpiper
we found on Sunday May 25th at Merced NWR. I was leading a tour for Field
Guides and swung down to the refuge so that we could find Tricolored
Blackbirds. There we found the Curlew Sandpiper along with a breeding
plumage Stilt Sandpiper in the same little wetland. We were surprised to
say the least. I should apologize for the report I left on the Northern
California birdbox. I had been birding and driving all day and was
exhausted. I forgot to mention that it was at the NWR, although I think
that since I mentioned the auto loop, most of you figured out where the
bird was. Also I probably should have been more definitive on the ID, I
just wanted to make sure that you all had realized that we had considered
other ID options. I guess the message sounded tentative in the end, and if
that kept some of you from heading over there I apologize. Good going to
Kent Van Vuren who saw the bird on the tuesday!
In any case I did get a bunch of digiscopes and a couple have been
posted on Joe Morlan's page (thanks Joe).
Click on Curlew Sandpiper to see the bird. As I mentioned on the tape there
was not one red feather on it! The bird had a white rump, which is not
visible in the shots. To separate from Stilt Sandpiper look at the following:
- bill thick at base, finely tipped. Curves throughout length.
- Forehead steep, eye somewhat centrally placed. Flat crown and eye closer
to crown on Stilt.
- Shorter legs, although the bird was always foraging deep in the water and
the full leg length could not be seen. What I looked at was the length of
the tibia and compared them to the Stilt Sand that was there.
- Blackish legs.
- no streaking on flanks, spotting confined to breast sides.
- Longer wings (primary and wing extension) compared to Stilt Sandpiper.
- different face pattern, with dark lores intruding into pale supercilium.
The bird did not call and we did not see it in flight. Dunlin easily
eliminated by various features, but main ones are white rump, paler
upperparts and breast, striking supercilium. If any of you have comments on
the identification do let me know.
I figured most of you wanted to see a few more details on this bird. My
apologies for not sending out a message earlier, I was not in town.
sending a copy to calbirds as folks there may be interested.
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