Monday, 31 October 2011

Headaches from the rock... number one

So Friday morning, the last day on the rock, went something a little bit like this. Get up, have breakfast, see very little in the middle fields, check the dump for interesting gulls to no avail (though some nice shots of atlantis scrapping around with the local cats and a 1cy GBB Gull).
I had a quick look around the tamarisks by the Cape Verde farm, and then a last walk around the airfield. There was little action on the beach, just a couple of Turnstone chilling out as well as a pretty screwed up looking Cory's Shearwater sitting on the runway. It must have had a hard night. So a check over the fields south of the airfield were nice, for old times' sake, but quiet this time around.

And then it was back to this little blighter that has had me perplexed for most of the week. I've been trying to convince myself all week, but I really haven't been too successful in doing so despite some of the others being much keener throughout. It's not a straightforward, obvious individual and I've seen a fair few in my time. One of my claims to fames is locating the Irish bird this autumn on the day for Britain's most famed twitcher Bagpuss, so hear me out guys as I know a bit about what I'm talking about. And I haven't received any emails from the usual scrutinisers, so they're either perplexed or just slagging me off behind my back. So here goes it, with some photos... and a read of Julian Hough's recent paper in Birdwatch. Chandler's Shorebirds book oversimplifies things, so don't go by that.
Much better light here - you can see an orbital ring although it's only pronounced in this light and I'd describe it as buff as opposed to yellow. The legs appear distinctly two-toned, quoted in Van Duivendijk as a pro Semi-p feature. And in this image the lores look real thin, meeting the bill above the gape line. There's a nice obvious orangey bill base.

For sure, palmations between the middle and outer toes - a feature also shown by Ringed Plover. Any pronounced palmation between the inner and middle toe is tenuous... but is it still there?

Dabs at the breast sides, more akin to RP and is that a full breast band?

Are those lores too thick? Compare this image with the 1st one and see how posture gives a different layout of the loral feathering. At this range, there is a orbital ring but it's subtle for sure. And once again, look at those breast sides... though the super thickens at the rear side of the eye.
So, what do I think to this bird? Well I've always found Semipalmated Plovers more obvious than you'd think at places such as Cabo da Praia, so I'm battling with myself because I've not struggled like this before. In certain respects, you need to judge birds such as this on a suite of characteristics for sure, as the little blighter never called despite trying to coax it to do so. References vary - for example, Chandler's book shows a nice photo of a Semip Plover's foot that looks just like this bird, but then incorrectly states that Ringed Plover should have no webbing. Hough states that Ringed Plovers have webbing between outer and middle (like this bird) while Van Duivendijk states 'in Ringed sometimes small semipalmation between inner and middle toe' which in my eyes this bird doesn't appear to show.

So scratching my head still - which I really shouldn't be with the prolonged, close views of this lone bird - I headed to have a scan of the roosting gulls and walked straight into another headache... but it's getting late so I'll leave you with a couple of shots and the commentary will come later. However, upon doing a bit of research over and above what I was already familiar with, this looks quite decent for an adult smithsonianus in my humble opinion.

And after all this tricky business, it was time for me to spread my wings and fly off the rock for another year. Thoroughly enjoyed my time here as always, good to see Manuel and Katt and especially had a quality time with my Dutch buddy Arthur Geilvoet - let's not leave it another 8 years mate.

1 comment:

  1. Always good to see everyone =) Hope your having a smooth winter.All the same here on Corvo,the rock hasnt shifted yet =) stay safe!