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Western/Semi-P Sandpiper ID - Cley and other birds
I haven't seen it and it looks from pics to be one of those halfway birds and if very good field observers are still struggling, it's obviously tricky. Given the vagaries of photographs and the way that conditions can alter what birds look like, all I would say is that from the few pics and a video on the net the overall shape is suggestive of Semi-p with the bird not looking leggy or lanky; the body looks short and fat and the neck seems very short and the bird hunched up and small-headed. I'm sure Semi-p moult later so Brian's comments above would stand too - the Cley bird clearly has some retained scaps pointing more to Semi-p where a Western would typically have moulted these by now and be greyer... although the exact scap pattern is confusing as searching several individuals reveals quite a variation within a basic arrowhead or anchor pattern - sometimes the black at the tip is very sharply defined, other times it's much more diffuse.
The ear coverts look reasonably dark and the bill could fit a long-billed Semi-p. The rufous tinges to some feathers seem more pronounced in some photos than in others (see the contrast between Andy Stoddart's pics and Steve Gantlett's pics for instance). It's not possible to see much on detail on the bill but it would have to be a longish-billed (female) Semi-p.
For a semi-p it's long-billed, for a Western it's late moulting and a bit on the short-necked, shortish-legged and fat bodied side (with the usual caveat that this is based on three photos...) Hopefully, people who have seen this bird in the field may be able to shed some light on the bill structure, overall structure in the field, feeding etc.
edit, perhaps not surprisingly a slightly different impression has been gained in the field with body shape more like a Dunlin (so Western-like), long-legged (also Western-like) and a distinctly long-billed apperarance, but with a blobbed tip. http://blakeneyfunnystuff.wordpress..../30/peep-show/
Last edited by forktail; November 30th, 2011, 06:32 PM.
The bird is at Pat's Pool and Simmonds S....e on Cley NWT Reserve and can only be viewed from the reserve hides (appearances dictated by tidal position). It is with a flock of Dunlin which also includes a further puzzling stint. Mark Golley discovered the SEMI-P on Sunday and it is still present today - and discussions are very reminiscent of those we had over a similarly-looking bird at Felixstowe Ferry in Suffolk in 1982/83.
Andy Stoddart's image certainly gives the impression of a Semi-P and as Brian has intimated by references, the moult (or lack of it) of the scapulars and upper wing coverts certainly concur with that species and are at odds with what you would expect from a first-winter Western in late November (compare with, for example, the relatively recent October occurrence of Western on Brownsea Island in Dorset). It is very long-billed but well within the variation of Semi-P and is typically squat, white-faced, short-legged, etc. It does have an odd warm chevron-shaped feather at the fore-breast and does seem to be quite warm in the coverts on SJMG's images but maybe that's artefacts of the shots.
No one seems to have commented on the amount of white on the breast sides above the wing bend. Another Western feature? It seems to show this consistently on all the shots. Also, one of the sideways - on shots on Birdforum seem to show a very faint, but complete breast band? The widening of the supercilium in front of the eye would also seem to be a Western feature or is this within the range shown by Semi - P?