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Spotted/Solitary Sandpiper Advice - Michigan

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Old Thursday 23rd August 2018, 22:11   #1
Rapala
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Spotted/Solitary Sandpiper Advice - Michigan

This morning I had a brief encounter with a sandpiper along a narrow river. The sandpiper flew by giving a series of harsh, but at this point forgotten, call notes that were somewhat high pitched. The flight was rapid series of wing beats followed by short glides, with the wings held low and curved downwards. I remember focusing on the belly to try to confirm Spotted Sandpiper, but the belly was relatively plain. I can't get into much detail because the encounter lasted probably five seconds. The one field mark that stood out was the white outer tail feathers, giving the impression of a brown stripe down the center of a white tail. If I am correct, this rules out Spotted Sandpiper. Calidris Sandpipers may be an option, but I have only ever seen them along coastal areas. Are they known to occur along inland water bodies? Based on this information, can I confirm Solitary? Thank you!
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Old Friday 24th August 2018, 01:19   #2
tom baxter
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I don’t know that you can confirm it, but it seems very likely based on your description
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Old Friday 24th August 2018, 16:02   #3
Dave B Smith
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To me the flight pattern you mention sounds like Spotted. Also, lack of spots on belly is not unusal for this species as it molts out of breeding plumage into winter.
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Old Friday 24th August 2018, 17:20   #4
tom baxter
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Originally Posted by Dave B Smith View Post
To me the flight pattern you mention sounds like Spotted. Also, lack of spots on belly is not unusal for this species as it molts out of breeding plumage into winter.
I agree with this but he also said the one striking field mark was the white outter tail feathers with dark center tail feathers which definitely points towards solitary. All in all unconfirmed identity with conflicting ID points.
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Old Friday 24th August 2018, 19:57   #5
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Thank you both.

The outer tail feathers were white, so this seems to rule out Spotted Sandpiper despite any other similarities. I suppose my flight pattern description might not be entirely consistent, as the bird was apparently startled as it flew around a bend in the river and encountered me. I believe that this leaves Solitary as the expected sandpiper (with white outer tail feathers) for this habitat. To go further into detail, the observation was on a small river in a heavily forested area, with mixed deciduous and coniferous trees. The was no bank to the river, as the sides were overgrown with alders and other vegetation. Calidris sandpipers are an option (to fit the tail marks), but when I see them in migration they are generally in groups along beaches or mudflats. I have little experience with Calidris Sandpipers, but are they known to occur on inland water such as this? I have always thought of them as primarily shorebirds of large water bodies.
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