Strange Sharpie at WTP Werribee, Vic

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Strange Sharpie at WTP Werribee, Vic
From: Jenny Spry <>
Date: Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:04:13 +1100
Hi all,

Yesterday (30/3) we went to the WTP at Werribee for a final look at the
waders before the last of them fly off to their breeding grounds in
Siberia. As we thought, most of them had gone but we did come across one
very odd looking Sharp-tailed Sandpiper. The bird had all the feathers on
its neck raised in a huge ruff and the neck was extended well over twice
its normal length. A friend suggested that the appearance was that one
sharpie had flown up the backside of another. I have put some images on my
blog for anyone who is interested.

Our first thought was that the bird was sick, then it was suggested that it
was actually a Ruff going into breeding plumage (personally I was plugging
for a new species; Spry's Sandpiper (SMILE)). The "Ruff" idea gained
credence because a Reeve was on the pond and someone said a Ruff had been
seen earlier in the year.

Back at home I sent the images off to some local experts and they even sent
the photos off to Russia for an opinion - isn't email wonderful. The
unanimous consensus is that the bird is definitely a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
that is not well. The reply from Russia suggested that it looked similar to
a bird displaying; "Its appearance does look as a male posture during a
territorial display on breeding grounds (a bird occasionally takes such or
very similar posture while standing on a hummock on its breeding
territory)." He added that he also thought the bird looked unwell.

Re-enforcing the probability that the bird is not well is that the bird was
"locked" in the pose for the whole time we watched it, probably over half
an hour. It snoozed, looked around and walked in this "display posture".
Eventually it and the 6 or 7 other Sharpies with it flew off but sadly we
were all looking the wrong way so I do not know it relaxed to normal before
flying or not.

If you are down at WTP over the next few days it is well worth looking for.
It was on pond 5 at the "T" section at high tide.


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