Sand Plovers at Lake Wollumboola

Subject: Sand Plovers at Lake Wollumboola
From: Graeme Chapman <>
Date: Sat, 31 Jan 2015 11:50:26 +1000
Hello Harvey and all,

Interesting that the old chestnut of  distinguishing Lessers from Greaters is 
still alive and even now there seems to have been  some confusion  by those 
visiting Lake Wollumboola recently, including by me!  I spent some time 
photographing what I thought were a couple of Greater Sand Plovers feeding - I 
was more interested in what they were doing rather than simply what they were. 
Unlike most of the other waders, they were feeding on the edge of the sandbank 
in the damp sand, pulling out tiny worms and it took me quite a few exposures 
until I timed it right to get the bird stretching the worm from the sand. Not 
until I got the pictures home and looked carefully did  I realise that the 
birds were Lessers.

Regarding identification,  I remember it being discussed at one of the NSW 
group meetings held at The Australian Museum back in the 1950s! If I remember 
correctly the various differences were pointed out and it was agreed that most 
observations in Australia can be correctly attributed, BUT as with virtually 
all birds, there is a range of measurements and an extremely large Lesser is 
not easy to tell from a small Greater, except by an expert (or a specimen!!). 
As a result of all this, I've loaded up  some comparative head studies under 
Greater Sand Plover (page 3) on my website.

Another interesting fact emerged from my photography - I caught the 
White-rumped Sandpiper doing a wing-stretch and on the left wing at least, the 
innnermost three or four primaries are worn away to almost nothing, so this 
little fella will have to eat up big and have a decent moult to sustain the big 
flight to Asia. Unfortunately, this very public area means that the birds are 
disturbed quite  a lot.

I tried to ascertain what the bird was eating without any success. It fed 
always in shallow water on what appeared to be small, almost spherical 
translucent objects. Again, pics on my website, a few Broad-billed as well.


Graeme Chapman

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