I spent an enjoyable Saturday at Comerong Island (near Nowra, NSW) and
came back with a small problem, which some of our corresponding
wader-experts might be so kind as to comment on.
There were good numbers of waders around, but rather a low number of
species. I failed, for example, to find a single Sharp-Tailed
Sandpiper. The highlight was probably a flock of about 150 Golden
Plover, some of which were in virtually full breeding plumage, and
nearly all showed at least some signs of moult.
There was a large mixed group of small waders, highly dispersed and
mobile, and therefore hard to estimate, but certainly numbering several
hundreds. It consisted, roughly in equal proportions, of Red-Necked
Stints (some reddish feathering now on the throats of these too!),
Red-Capped Plovers, and Lesser Sand-Plovers. I searched avidly among
the latter for Double-Banded Plovers, and satisfied myself there were
none, since none of them showed even the least trace of a double-band.
However, both at the time and afterwards, the whole exercise got me
keenly examining the field-guides (Pizzey and Knight, Simpson and Day,
Morcombe) to discover exactly what I should be looking for. To my
puzzlement, there is a high degree of inconsistency between them. In
particular, the illustration of a non-breeding Double-Banded Plover in
Simpson and Day might almost be a different species from that in the
other two guides.
What are the best criteria for distinguishing the two species,
especially at this time of year, when they might be encountered
together? I have confidently identified Double-Banded Plovers
elsewhere, but that was based on finding them in July and August, as
much as anything else.
Can someone offer good advice?
Associate Professor John M. Clifton-Everest
Department of Germanic Studies
University of Sydney
(61) (2) 9351 2262
Fax (61) (2) 9351 5318
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