Contrasting Stints

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Contrasting Stints
From: L&L Knight <>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2008 20:12:19 +1000
I was out at the Manly wader roost yesterday photographing the golden plovers - quite a few are now close to full breeding plumage.

As I was walking round the freshwater pond I came across a pair of stints. The thing that immediately struck me about the two stints was that plain-plumaged one appeared to be substantially larger than the chestnut-plumaged one. I observed them for less than a minute before they flew away [took 3 photos in 10 secs] but didn't get to see their wing bars.

When I got home, I consulted Pizzey & Knight 7th ed, Morecombe 1st ed and Hayman From an identification viewpoint, the information contained in these three guides was incomplete and inconsistent. For example, P&K gives the impression that [in the case of Red-necked Stints] the primaries are shorter than the tail when the wings are folded, while Morecombe notes that the primaries are longer than the tail, and Hayman appears to be silent on the matter.

The both stints had chestnut on their scapulars [much more on the smaller bird] - inconsistent with P&K. [The large stint has a small amount while the smaller stint had extensive chestnut].

The larger stint had primaries longer than its tail, while the smaller stint had primaries about the same length of its tail. The smaller stint appeared to have a finer tipped bill, and a smaller more rounded head.

In the case of the smaller stint, the lores, ear coverts and the back of the head/neck were chestnut, streaked black. The chin and throat [based on a 3/4 view] were white. There was a pale mantle line. There was some chestnut on the mantle, and extensive, bright chestnut edging on the scapulars and tertials. Many of the scapulars were tipped white, which may be a sign of wear, but the feathers didn't appear to be messy.

Hayman (pp 369-70) notes that scapulars of Little Stints in breeding plumage "have blackish centres and bright mid-chestnut fringes, tipped whitish-grey when fresh. Tertials brownish, edged pale chestnut. Wing-coverts mostly pale brown, fringed fairly deep chestnut-buff."

I can forward pictures of the pair to anyone who is interested.

Regards, Laurie

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