Help identifying waterbird

To: "Chris Sanderson" <>, <>
Subject: Help identifying waterbird
From: "Peter Shute" <>
Date: Sat, 20 Jan 2007 08:58:39 +1100
From:   Chris Sanderson 
Sent:   Fri 19/01/2007 11:00 AM

>Even if plumage were ever a reliable feature in waders (which it rarely is),
I'd never trust any of the field guides to get it right.  Your best ID
feature with most waders is bill shape.  Marsh Sandpipers have a long,
straight black bill which is "needle-shaped".  If you look at the bills of
other long-billed waders they are thick and mostly upwardly curved (godwits
and greenshank).  There are no other waders in Australia that have that
really fine bill.  Phalaropes (in my very limited experience) are quite
small, and constantly move around bobbing their head from side to side.

I'm happy to accept that it's a Marsh Sandpiper, but this Phalarope is a bit 
bigger than the others (22-25cm compared to 20-23 for the Sandpiper) and has a 
longer bill.  I'd really like to see the two side by side.

> They also usually swim rather than wade or walk.

Slater says "Swims lower than other Phalaropes with longer profile, but more 
likely to feed on shore where it can be confused with Sandpipers".  S&D says 
"Feeds by swimming. Spins occasionally".  I saw no spinning, and I'm not sure 
if the water was deep enough for swimming.

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