American Golden Plover

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: American Golden Plover
From: Phil Gregory <>
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 14:49:44 +1000
A belated posting I'm afraid, I was away up at Lotusbird Lodge after my lifer Red Goshawk, with a supporting cast of Golden-shouldered Parrot, 14 Grass Owls one night out on the plains, a Rufous Owl, both Tawny and Papuan Frogmouths, a White-streaked Honeyeater, 5 Star Finch (rare in Queensland these days, these were of the yellow bellied northern form as expected) and lots of Banded, White-gaped, Rufous-banded and Rufous-thoated Honeyeaters. A juvenile Pec Sand out on the Nifold Plain with Pacific Golden Plovers was also a surprise. Mustn't forget Northern Nail tail Wallaby either, we had a really good stay at the Lodge and it's a must if you are going up the Cape. Thanks to Murray Hunt for working so hard for us, and to John Crowhurst and Mark Jagusch for good company. I can also report a sighting of John Crowhurst running, for his lifer Star Finch........
Anyway, the posting concerns what I think is an American Golden Plover which was on the marsh grass along the Cairns Esplanade on October 20. I initially thought it was a Grey Plover coming out of summer dress, but realised it was too dainty, later confirmed by the typical "Lesser Golden" wing pattern and tail pattern. The bird is clearly an adult coming out of summer plumage, it very much resembles a Grey Plover with a mottled black face and underparts, but with a white line along the flanks. The wings extended well beyond the tail, giving a slender, attenuated rear end, far more so than nearby Pacific Golden which usually fall level or are just beyond the tail, and the tertials were notably short, well behind the tail tip. There was some black mottling on the undertail but this seems to be of little value in the field for separating the species.
There was no hint of golden or buff spangling on this bird, very unlike Pacific GP's. Another greyish bird nearby was also of interest, but we never got a detailed look at it. Curiously, two American Golden Plovers were reported here back in October 1998, allowing close views in the short marsh grass and being conspicuous by their very greyish appearance. I don't think these were ever submitted to BARC, does anyone have detailed notes about them?
Phil Gregory
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