Scutellate, reticulate, tessellate plus those photos

To: "birding-aus" <>
Subject: Scutellate, reticulate, tessellate plus those photos
From: "Robert Inglis" <>
Date: Mon, 1 May 2006 18:15:40 +1000
Hi Tattler Tickers,

Scutellate, reticulate, tessellate -what do they mean?

In the more detailed reference sources, eg, Shorebirds (Hayman et al) and The 
Handbook of Australian
New Zealand and Antarctic Birds (HANZAB) in the entries for the two tattler 
species there are
descriptions of the legs being either scutellate (Grey-tailed) or reticulate 

Some birders also use the word "tessellate" in reference to the Wandering 

These words are used to describe a truly diagnostic feature which will 
determine if the bird is a
Grey-tailed or Wandering Tattler.

Note: Diagnostic = definitive and not just indicative.

The terms refer to the appearance of the 'scales' on the back of each bird's 
legs, particularly the

Scutellate means the scales are overlapping and forming a ladder-like pattern.
This pattern is also described as being like roof tiles.
The Grey-tailed Tattler has scutellation on the back of the tarsus.

Reticulate means the scales are not overlapping and in the case of the 
Wandering Tattler the pattern
is in the form of tessellation.
In other words, the pattern on the rear of the tarsus of the Wandering Tattler 
appears to be made up
of non-over-lapping small squares or blocks in a net-like or mosaic pattern.

Unfortunately, this is another feature of these birds which is very difficult 
to see unless the bird
is in the hand.

I just thought that might be of interest.

As to the two Tattler photos...
I thank all of the (12) people who have so far 'had a go'.

Now I must ask you all to be patient while waiting for the 'answer'.
There is a deal of 'discussion' going on in the back-ground and in the evenings 
as I look to the
south I can see a dull orange glow on the skyline.
(At the moment I am dressed in a flame-proof suit and strapped into an escape 
My finger is poised over the 'Eject' button.)

Seriously, I want to assure everyone that there is a very good reason for using 
only two photos and
for choosing those particular ones.
The exercise is intended to be 'educational' and as such is meant to ultimately 
identification information which should make separating these two species 
easier and more reliable.

There is no intention to destroy friendships or reputations.
There is every intention to attract attention.


Bob Inglis
Sandstone Point
SE Qld.
The following people have responded to the test:
C S, T R, T T, J W, P M, K B, A C, B M, G P, C B, J C, S C.
Note: I have used the initials according to the manner in which each person has 
named themself.


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