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Old Monday 7th September 2009, 21:38   #1
Microtus
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Sand-Plover identification, Virginia, USA

A sand-plover was found yesterday, far out of range, in the state of Virginia.

Photos of it can be found here
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wendeldh/

and here
http://www.visitingnature.com/sandploverspecies.htm

There is a thread about it on the Surfbirds ID forum as well as on the Frontiers of Bird Identification listserv.

Does anybody have any comments as to which species this bird belongs to? There are a handful of Lesser Sand-Plover (formerly Mongolian Plover) records in eastern North America, and one Greater Sand-Plover record.

Thanks!

Rob
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Old Monday 7th September 2009, 22:11   #2
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IMO it is a Lesser Sandplover, probably of the atrifrons-group (the flanks look unpatterned). Here are photos of a Lesser Sandplover in a very similar plumage:
http://www.tarsiger.com/gallery/inde...&species=14500
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Old Monday 7th September 2009, 22:15   #3
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I'd agree with Lesser Sand Plover...smaller size, shorter legs, head pattern and leg colour all indicate Lesser.

Sean
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 09:56   #4
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More photos
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffamy/
http://shoch.smugmug.com/Other/Sand-...42448310_5Qd9y
http://www.birdsofvirginia.com/Galle...er_Galary.html

Many people who have seen the bird think it could be a Greater, not a Lesser. Do the new photos change anyone's opinion?
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 12:01   #5
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It still looks like a good Lesser Sandplover to me:
-the bill is short and stubby, with a rather blunt tip (on a Greater Sandplover the tip is more elongated)
-the head is very rounded, Greater Sandplover usually has a flatter crown
-the short rear end gives it a compact look
-it's only slightly bigger than a Semipalmated Sandpiper
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 13:20   #6
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You mean Semipalmated Plover, don't you?

For what it's worth, at one point when the sand plover was very close to a Semi Plover, it looked substantially longer (say, 15 or 20 % or more longer).
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 15:39   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Microtus View Post
You mean Semipalmated Plover, don't you?
Yes.
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 20:53   #8
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For what it's worth i'm in the lesser sand plover camp. As CAU stated the bird gives a compact stubby billed impression and the proportions fits LSP. Do compare photos on:

http://orientalbirdimages.org/search...rd=sand+plover
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 21:04   #9
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Yes, I agree with Lesser Sand Plover. Having seen Greater Sand, that looks distinctly smaller and the head pattern is far different from a Greater Sand with this bird. Lesser Sand Plover.
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Old Tuesday 8th September 2009, 21:54   #10
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Lesser Sand for me as well
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 01:21   #11
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Thanks everybody!
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 12:27   #12
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Just a slight addition. Dave B has previously made a good illustration of the differences in bill shape between Greater and Lesser Sandplover:
http://www.birdforum.net/attachment....4&d=1187667386
Now compare it with this photo:
http://www.birdsofvirginia.com/Image...over_Link.html
The bulb on the upper mandible spans only one third of the bill length and the tip is blunt.

Some comments that I've read elsewhere on the net have certainly caused me to rise my eyebrows...
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 15:24   #13
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As Microtus notes, it has also been discussed extensively on ID-FRONTIERS:
http://listserv.arizona.edu/archives/birdwg01.html [Sep 2009, weeks 1&2]

It's surprising that Killian Mullarney (Lesser) and Erik Hirschfeld (Greater) disagree.

Richard
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 16:46   #14
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http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/VABD.html is a temporary archive of the most recent ~75 posts. People are posting links to their photographs there. Some discussion is taking place there as well.

A request went out today for razor-sharp pictures of the bill, and very detailed descriptions of the bill.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 16:49   #15
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Well about KM and EH disagreements it's easy to think that experts never make mistakes in ID. This said i do not mean it in a negative way, just as a thought.

We all do mistakes sometimes when it comes to id-birds (and other things in life).

And i do not mean that my thoughts are correct about the LSP-id.

In the end it's the U.S/state rarity committee has got the last word on the ID.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 17:04   #16
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Stranger things has happend. Just goes to show that - in this case - bill shape/size is sometimes very difficult to judge! In some images it looks rather thin-tipped, in others more blunt-tipped. However, in most images of the subject sandplover, mongolus group could be counted out due to bill size and shape. One of the atrifrons group fits most perfectly, since longer-billed and longer-legged. Structurally it looks better for Lesser. The reason why Erik has suggested Greater I can´t say.
I think that some individuals are more difficult than people are aware of, some eastern greater looks rather short-billed and short-legged, while in one of the images the subject bird looks rather long-legged (long tibia). It would be very nice to see some better, sharper images!

JanJ

http://homepage2.nifty.com/stints/pl...ersandplv.html

http://homepage2.nifty.com/stints/pl...ersandplv.html
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 20:09   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAU View Post
Just a slight addition. Dave B has previously made a good illustration of the differences in bill shape between Greater and Lesser Sandplover:
http://www.birdforum.net/attachment....4&d=1187667386
Now compare it with this photo:
http://www.birdsofvirginia.com/Image...over_Link.html
The bulb on the upper mandible spans only one third of the bill length and the tip is blunt.

Some comments that I've read elsewhere on the net have certainly caused me to rise my eyebrows...
The bill in the picture you link to is turned toward the observer, and the head feathers are fluffed out. When I saw the bird on Monday the head did not usually have that profile.
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 22:51   #18
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Agree with Jan J's comments as regards the bill shape/size differing in pics posted.

I will try and dig out some pics of an atifrons Lesser Sand Plover which I photographed a few springs back in Japan. It is a race that has not been claimed in Japan, but undoubtedly was this subspecies. They do have a bill structure not dissimilar to Greater, as well as similar plumage in summer.

However, I have never seen a Greater Sand Plover with short legs or bill in NE Asia, so wonder what races show those traits.

Sean
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Old Wednesday 9th September 2009, 23:53   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Klim View Post
As Microtus notes, it has also been discussed extensively on ID-FRONTIERS:
http://listserv.arizona.edu/archives/birdwg01.html [Sep 2009, weeks 1&2]

It's surprising that Killian Mullarney (Lesser) and Erik Hirschfeld (Greater) disagree.

Richard
Interesting stuff - Erik was here in Bahrain for a good number of years - where both species are common in many forms - also He did undertake a prolonged wader study which included a ringing project over three seasons (late Aug through Sept) - He and I ringed Bahrain's only Kittlitz's Plover at the start of the 1992 season (a first for the Gulf) ... He has had extensive in the hand experience of both these species so although the weight of opinions on this forum is for Lesser - I personally would not discount Erik's views lightly.

Yesterday I was out on the shore here I saw over 100 Greater and around thirty Lesser and with that in mind I have spent a great deal of time looking at the images of the subject bird - there are quite a few but what is surprising not a single decent one - in some I would swear black and blue its a greater but in many one feels it has to be a lesser. From the photographic evidence provided I don't feel confident to call it one or the other. Hopefully someone in Virgina can provide a reasonable photograph - not just of the bill but the whole bird

I have attached a couple of recent photos from here (Greater then Lesser) as a reminder have plenty of others covering many of the ssp of each
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by Howard King : Wednesday 9th September 2009 at 23:56.
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 07:53   #20
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None offence given to Howard or Eric, but just because one knows how the Bharain/western population of a ssp of LSP/GSP looks like does not make one an expert on the more eastern ssp of the species. As written above the far eastern ssp might show other id-features that vary more than the western populations. I think the bird in question most probably is of eastern ssp. (but what do i know?) bevause that's whats most likely in geographical terms.
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 13:25   #21
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but just because one knows how the Bharain/western population of a ssp of LSP/GSP looks like does not make one an expert on the more eastern ssp of the species.
but at least it is of a broader experience, we are not trying to get it down to ssp but to separate a Greater from a Lesser and in that context any experience is just as worthy as any other for comments on the various forums.

Both columbinus and Cassirostris of Greater are regularly recorded here as are for for Lesser mongolus (mongolus and stegmanni) and artifron (artifrons, parmirenisand and schaeferi) -

As to the origins of the Virgina bird I am prepared to wait on the publishing of a decent photograph before I hazard a guess....
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 16:17   #22
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Having only seen 1 Greater in Uk. I was struck by how long the bill looked and how "large-headed" compared to this bird. IMO this is a Lesser SP. They have a more "appealing" look IMO.
Compare Howard's 2 comparison photos above. This beautifully demonstrates this.
I always consider GSP to have a "crocodile-head", compared to the more "gentle-plover head" of LSP.
Study the above 2 photos again and you will see this...
Something else that hasn't been mentioned. The length of bill on LSP from base to tip should equate with distance from bill-base to rear of eye.
Use this rule on Howard's comparison photos, and you will see it fits for the right hand bird. But the left-hand bird? The bill is much longer. It is a GSP...as we know.
Now use this rule on these pics of the USA SP...

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffamy/

...and you will see the bill-length rule fits perfectly. (Use a ruler if necessary!)

IMO the bird in question is a Lesser SandPlover.
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 16:28   #23
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Oh! And the 1st photo shows it in direct comparison with Killdeer to great effect!
Collin's has these 3's total length as thus...

Killdeer 23.5 - 26 cm
GSP 19 - 22 cm
LSP 17 - 19 cm

It does look smaller, rather than closer to Killdeer's size.

But i leave that to your judgement....
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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 17:38   #24
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Some good links here:

http://www.sunbittern.com/id-sandplovers.html

http://www.californiabirds.org/members/SandPlover.pdf

One of the better where the bill stands out.

http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gal...lery=gallery10

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Old Thursday 10th September 2009, 18:35   #25
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It is important to note that this article is written from an Australian point of view, and the plumage features fit the subspecies mongolus and stegmanni, not the atrifrons group. For example the breast band is described to be more brightly red on Lesser Sandplover than on Greater. However, photographs show that some Lesser Sandplovers of the atrifrons group may have a very orangey breast bands, like this one:
http://orientalbirdimages.org/search...ID=&pagesize=1
Also the Finnish LSP, presumed to belong to the atrifrons group, had a very orangey breast band:
http://www.tarsiger.com/gallery/inde...&species=14500

Note also that only the mongolus/stegmanni Lesser Sandplovers (i.e. Mongolian Plovers) have patterned flanks in breeding plumage (contrary to what has been claimed elsewhere), birds of the atrifrons group have white flanks.
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