Date: 9/7/17 7:19 am From: Matt Hafner <hafner.matt...> Subject: [MDBirding] Swan Creek Sharp-tailed Sandpiper August 5/6 - MAYBE?
I want to put out a word of caution since there are still a lot people who want to see this bird. Many people have been looking at the photos taken this week (Sept 5th and 6th) and the consensus is that no photos CONFIRM the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper to be present. Several of the photos posted to eBird are Pectoral Sandpipers, while others are inconclusive.
I thought that I saw the bird on Tuesday, and that it had lost some of it's streaking on the flanks and undertail coverts. After further review of the available photos (including my own), I am not convinced.
Some factors to consider:
The Sharp-tailed has a dark base to the bill. Many photos this week show a pale base to the bill.
One "soft" field mark that I discussed with Dave Czaplak last week was that the densest chest streaking on Pectoral Sandpipers, occurs at the lower center of the chest. This is the least dense area on the Sharp-tailed. Many photos this week show a dark, densely streaked lower chest.
Last week, when I found the Sharp-tailed, the only Pectoral Sandpipers were juveniles, which would not be easily confused with the Sharp-tailed, an adult. On Friday, an adult Pectoral was observed and photographed in close proximity to the Sharp-tailed ( https://macaulaylibrary.org/asset/67767791#_ga=2.3804020.576149888.1504792727-1157881165.1396634485). Over the last 2 days, there are several, at least 4-6, adult Pectorals present. This makes picking out the Sharp-tailed much more difficult when the birds are not close. Many of the field marks on the Sharp-tailed are subtle and best observed in good light at close range. This is one of the reasons I was so hesitant to make the initial call last Wednesday.
I will be out at Swan Creek again today and tomorrow around lunch time trying to confirm the presence of the Sharp-tailed. The past two days have still had plenty of good birds (3 Hudsonian Godwits, 2 Wilson's Phalaropes, 2-5 Baird's Sandpipers, American Golden-Plover) so I hope others will make it out to check as well.
Matt Hafner Forest Hill, MD
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