Sorting Out Golden Plovers Moulting into Breeding Plumage

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Sorting Out Golden Plovers Moulting into Breeding Plumage
From: knightl <>
Date: Sun, 6 Apr 2003 13:44:13 +1000
I went back to the the Thornside wader roost [Brisbane] yesterday.

The BT godwits in breeding plumage that were present there last week seemed to have disappeared, and in their place, there were a large number of terek sandpipers, a horde of GT tattlers and a few redwashed curlew sandipers. There were also a number of golden plovers moulting into their breeding plumage - some were well advanced.

The default assumption here in Oz is that any golden plovers seen are almost certainly Pluvialis fluva [pacific gold] rather than apricaria [eurasian gold] or dominica [american gold].

I suspect you probably have to get a good view of the birds in flight to get a definitive ID, as there is a fair bit of variation in plumage as the birds are moulting into their breeding colours. [Some of the birds had a fair bit of gold on their faces and looked like the eurasians pictured in Pizzey & Knight].

Are there any reliable diagnostic keys when the birds are on the ground? The field guides indicate that pacifics are the smallest golds [23-26 cm] and are in the same size range as a grey-tailed tattler [24-27 cm]. It is hard to compare the two when the plovers stand so much taller than the tattlers and appear to the similar in bulk to a great knot [26-28 cm]. The eurasians, on the other hand are listed as being 26-29 cm.

Pizzey & Knight also suggest that the eurasians have shorter / stouter bills than the pacifics.

My other question is whether any eurasians or americans that lob onto Oz beaches are likely to be in the company of other golden plovers [as the Bribie Is laughing gull keeps the company of other gulls and terns, and the Penrice hudwit sticks around with the local godwits]?

I have posted a number of shots on Ozbirdpix [ ] for those of you who are interested.

Regards, Laurie.

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