Whilst taking a video (300-mm lens) of [Common] Eiders [Somateria mollissima] on a quiet sand/rock beach on Stronsay, two of our visitors, Mike & Lynn Johnson, noticed four small waders fly into view and land on weed-covered rocks close to the water's edge. Three were obviously adult Dunlins, but the fourth was much smaller, and, not being sure of the identification, MJ and LJ returned to 'Castle', where the video was played to myself and Miss J. Maples. Although the bird was superficially very like Little Stint, there did not appear to be any rufous in the plumage, which was overall very pale grey-fawn, and the underparts were white with dark streaking on the breast. We decided to return to the site and relocated the bird at approximately 8.30 p.m. and, although light was excellent and we watched the bird down to 50 ft [15 m] until 10 p.m., we decided to try again next day. On returning to 'Castle', we searched through all available literature and independently we all concluded that the bird matched the summer-plumaged Semipalmated Sandpiper illustrated by Lars Jonsson in British Birds (77: 313). Little Stint had been eliminated on call, width of bill and lack of rufous in plumage, as had Red-necked Stint [C. ruficollis]. This just left Western Sandpiper [C. maun], which was also eliminated on lack of rufous and bill length, but we had to be sure and so returned next morning hoping to clinch the identification.

Volume: 
Issue 4
Start Page: 
196
Display Image: 

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