Pectoral Sandpiper at Bendigo, Vic.

Subject: Pectoral Sandpiper at Bendigo, Vic.
From: Chris Tzaros <>
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2001 09:13:49 +1100
G,day birders,

On the morning of Saturday 13 January, 2001, I visited the Bendigo Mining Evaporation Ponds at Woodvale, about 20 km north of Bendigo on the road to Dingee and Mitiamo.  I have visited this site a few times of late as the conditions there for waders are quite good, although I do have some concerns as to the quality of the water.

I arrived at the site at approx. 0615 h.  After searching the first large pond (at about 3/4 capacity with very shallow water and extensive mud-flats on the western side), I turned my attention to the next large shallow pond further west (similar water levels).  It was here, whilst scoping along the western side that I located three Sandpipers, from a distance of approx. 60 metres.  Instantly, I recognised that 2 birds looked the same, and one a little different in general colour and appearance.  Because there is some vegetation along the western bank, I was able to conceal myself and approach the birds even closer.  From a distance of about 30-40 metres, I again scoped the birds obtaining excellent views of all angles in full sun and part shade.  The shade was provided by some dead Cassinia shrubs close to the water.  The  three birds were feeding close to the water line and in shallow water, occasionally standing upright and temporarily resting.  I dentified two birds as Sharp-tailed Sandpipers;  a species that I am relatively familiar with having seen them several times previously.  The other bird was however, much more exciting to me as I had never seen anything like it before.  Using a combination of three field guides (Slater et al. 1992, Pizzey and Knight 1997 and Hayman et al. 1986), I identified the 'lone' wader to be a Pectoral Sandpiper.

All diagnostic features of this species were very clear on this specimen, but most strikingly, the bold streaking down the chest before ending abruptly on the breast.  This feature was noticeable when first sighted at greater distance.  Other features were the much brighter 'yellow' legs on this bird and the pale 'yellow-green' colour at the base of the beak.  As the bird was in such close association with the Sharpies, they offered an excellent comparison.  Their legs were much darker, almost olive-green, and their bills black.  The general colour of the Sharpies was also more of a grey-brown, rather than the pale brown of the Pectoral.

This is just the second record of the Pectoral Sandpiper for the Bendigo district.  Previously, two were observed with Sharp-tailed Sandpipers by John Berry and Ray Wallace at May Swamp, Bendigo Sewage Farm, on 14/12/84.

Full list of species observed were:

Red-necked Avocets (3 nests with young - about 20 birds in total)
Black-winged Stilt (c. 30)
Hoary-headed Grebe
Little Pied Cormorant
Pacific Heron
White-faced Heron
Australian White Ibis
Straw-necked Ibis
Royal Spoonbill (1 bird) (rare for the Bendigo district)
Yellow-billed Spoonbill
Black Swan
Australian Shelduck
Pacific Black Duck
Grey Teal
Pink-eared Duck
Black-tailed Native Hen (8)
Eurasian Coot
Masked Lapwing
Red-kneed Dotterel (16)
Red-capped Plover (18)
Black-fronted Plover (10)
Marsh Sandpiper (2)
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (2)
Pectoral Sandpiper (1)
Silver Gull (120 birds, at least 6 nests with young)
Musk Lorikeet
Purple-crowned Lorikeet
Cockatiel (2)
Singing Bushlark
Richard's Pipit
Welcome Swallow
Fairy Martin
Black-faced Cuckoo-Shrike
Restless Flycatcher
Brown Songlark
Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Noisy Miner
White-fronted Chat
Australian Magpie
Australian Raven


Chris Tzaros

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