grey or wandering tattlers

To: <>
Subject: grey or wandering tattlers
From: Frank O'Connor <>
Date: Thu, 16 Jan 2003 13:56:47 +0800
Being from the west, I haven't seen Wandering Tattlers very often.  But those I have seen at Hastings Point NSW, Sunshine Coast Qld, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island were quite obvious and left me in no doubt when I saw them.

1. They were darker above, but this is a relative thing.

2. They bob up and down like a Common Sandpiper, which I haven't seen Grey-tailed do.

3. They have always been on rocky shorelines, but Grey-tailed can be also.

4. The different supercilium is noticable if you look hard enough for it with good optics, but this is a very relative feature, and still left me with some doubt.

5. The call is distinctive, but you usually need to flush the birds to get them to call.  You should avoid flushing birds anyway, and after being flushed it is no longer there .... :-(

At 16:32 16/01/2003 +1300, Brent Stephenson wrote:
Call is one way of IDing these guys, but after you have seen both species, I feel that they definitely have a different jizz and tone to the grey of the upperparts.  This however, is a relative thing, and takes a little practice, but I feel that it can be conclusive .

I d suggest the nasal groove is a tough one to get, your eyes will probably explode before you see this feature in the field (except through really expensive optics at very close range).  In my experience (which is by no means exhaustive with either of these species) grey-tailed do tend to hold themselves more horizontal (similar to a terek sand), have a lighter more washed out grey tone to the upperparts, and the supercilium is generally prominent well past the eye.  Wandering tats tend to hold themselves more upright with a longer necked stance (greenshank-ish), have a far darker grey tone to the upperparts, and the supercilium is generally far less prominent.  They seem to be a bit more long legged in the field to as far as measurements go, however, the difference in tarsus length is in the realm of millimetres (according to HANZAB), so is probably more an artefact of the birds stance.

Frank O'Connor     Birding WA
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