Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

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RussCannings
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby RussCannings » Mon Oct 28, 2019 12:51 pm

Wow, things have been really exciting at Miranda lately! I would have liked to pop in on either Saturday or Sunday evening however the stars did not align. Can certainly see why this bird is raising eye-brows, and hopefully it sticks around for closer photographs and scrutiny. I agree that the only two candidates would have to be Broad-billed or Western Sandpiper. Neither would seem like a slam dunk, however I think one fits better overall.

For me the most telling photo, is the third one posted by David, as that gives a nice impression of the bird in profile. While a water droplet may enhance things a bit, the straightish bill with a sudden droop at the end seems like classic Broad-billed to me. Westerns tend to have more evenly curved bills, or at least starting half way along the bill rather than right at the end. The steep loral angle (where the eye-stripe angles up from the base of the bill to the eye, rather than in line), while maybe not diagnostic, is something I associate more with Broad-billed Sandpiper facial expression, and the dark crown spots also seem more like a Broad-billed feature than the more fine striping that is typical of Westerns in similar plumage. Looking at the 2nd and 4th photos in David's set, there also seems to be a very faint (but present) split supercilium. Looking online, this faded crown pattern is not necessarily rare in Broad-billed. In regards to the bill size and shape, we do need to keep in mind, that like Westerns, Broad-bills can show a range of bill lengths and widths related to sex and age. I would be interested if anyone has any good photos of last summer's Broad-billed Sandpiper from Miranda--as maybe this is the same bird returned? Finally, while leg colour is useful, most Broad-billed Sandpipers in the field appear to show grey-black legs (See Ian's photos above)--usually no where near as obvious as the green legs in many field guides. With mud-stains and bad lighting, I would be wary of making a call based on legs alone.

Would love this to be a Western though! Haven't seen one in 5 years, so have send this thread to some friends in BC in case they can make any definitive remarks.

With the great birds popping up around the country (e.g. Whanganui and Ellesmere), hopefully it draws a few extra scopes down to local estuaries!

Russ C
Indoors in Morrinsville, NZ
Wandoona
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Wandoona » Mon Oct 28, 2019 2:31 pm

Just a note .. could take it with a grain of salt as I’m no expert though there are plenty BBS here at Broome that have similar features but the Merlin ID app which is surprisingly accurate including location is unequivocal ( usually throws up options) that it’s a BBS
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Adam C
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Adam C » Mon Oct 28, 2019 3:59 pm

That steep sloping base of the bill suggests more broadbill than Western. Love it to be a Western too but think my $$$ are on a Broadbill even without the double eyestripe. But we all love a good mystery bird!
“Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.”

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Grahame
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Grahame » Mon Oct 28, 2019 7:59 pm

Just back from Miranda where we had superb views. I'm afraid its a Broad-billed Sandpiper. I have several photos taken on my phone through my scope. I will sort through and post the ones that show it best tomorrow afternoon.

Cheers, Grahame
David Lawrie
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby David Lawrie » Mon Oct 28, 2019 9:41 pm

As Grahame said, very good views tonight,and it certainly has many of the attributes of a BBS, but is an unusual plumage lacking the double supercilium and with a small bill, this will be one for the UBR committee
andrewcrossland
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby andrewcrossland » Mon Oct 28, 2019 10:27 pm

hmmm, that's the strangest Broad-billed Sandpiper I ever saw, and I've seen many thousands. Have you considered a hybrid?
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Michael Szabo
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Michael Szabo » Tue Oct 29, 2019 10:46 am

According to HANZAB: There are two recognised subspecies of Broad-billed Sandpiper, with L.f. sibirica, the eastern broad-billed sandpiper, reaching New Zealand, and the nominate falcinellus of northern Europe and western Siberia.

GEOGRAPHICAL VARIATION Two subspecies, with no significant difference in size but marked difference in colour of breeding plumage: in nominate falcinellus, ground-colour of Calidridinae upperparts, black-brown (119) and black; in subspecies sibirica, ground-colour, dark brown (119A) with black (89), if present, restricted to shaft-streaks; sibirica also has broader and brighter tips to feathers of upperparts. Non-breeding plumages very similar; in fresh plumage, subspecies sibirica has wider, white fringes to feathers of upperparts, which are quickly lost with wear; in worn plumage, sibirica, greyer with few dark-brown shaft-streaks showing by Nov. In juvenile plumage, sibirica has broader buff fringes to feathers of upperparts, though these soon lost with wear. Populations differ in number of primaries replaced by juveniles in first pre-supplemental moult; may be related to distance of migration or possibly a subspecific trait; Indone-sian and Aust. sibirica lose 3-4 outer primaries; European falcinellus replace 2-3 (BWP); in India, which said to be nominate falcinellus, lose 3-4.

Bill of nominate may be tinged greenish or yellowish; bill of sibirica is not. Adult, Immature Bill, black-brown (19) or dark brown (21); slightly paler, even olive-brown (30) or yellow (1 year old on 19 Feb.; D.I. Rogers) at base , of lower mandible. Iris, dark brown (22). Legs and feet, deep grey-olive (43). Juvenile As adult, but legs of some paler, possibly even yellow-olive (52), especially on distal end of tarsus. Joints, dark.

See HANZAB for more details: http://nzbirdsonline.org.nz/sites/all/f ... dpiper.pdf
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Grahame
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Grahame » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:31 pm

I'm sorry Andrew, but I cannot go near your numbers of sightings, although my B b Sands are in double figures, and Western two. Until last night I was firmly of the opinion that this bird was a Western, but last night yielded such good views, down to 50-70 mtrs, that I was forced to change my opinion. These photos (all very poor taken on my phone), will go some way towards showing why I changed my mind.

Cheers, Grahame
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Grahame
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby Grahame » Tue Oct 29, 2019 1:32 pm

And one more showing the plumage.
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David Lawrie
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Re: Mystery Sanpiper at Miranda

Postby David Lawrie » Tue Oct 29, 2019 8:33 pm

While the prevailing view is for a BBS, as Andrew says it is not like previous birds I have seen, admittedly only about 10, but it does share many BBS characteristics, apart from head pattern and bill shape. the idea of a hybrid is one I have not considered, but I have been sent a link by JoJo to an article https://www.sibleyguides.com/2010/02/an ... -thailand/ which suggests that hybridization may be more common than thought.
I attach a couple more of Tony's photos which show the raised wing, and up the back, not well but best so far.
this rules out another BBS feature!!!
it will be interesting to see if there is any change in plumage in the coming months.
Oh the joys of birdwatching, always a challenge to face!!!
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