Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If Wishes Were Horses

1. horse-kab There is an old nursery rhyme that says:

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride,

If turnips were watches I’d wear one by my side.”

~Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes

Well, if wishes were jaegers the bird below would be one. But it is not. It is an immature Laughing Gull. I wanted it to be one, but wanting does not make it so. I use to tell Chris Rohrer this all the time when he and I first started birding together. I really do want to be accurate in my bird identifications. I realize this is and always will be a learning process. Once again I have had to correct my records after too hastily jumping on the hope that this bird was a jaeger. I received much help from the Facebook Group, Maine Birds, especially from a young man named Kyle Lima and Dough Hitchcock, the Regional eBird Reviewer and head of Maine Audubon, who pointed out that this bird’s bill and neck were too long and narrow for a jaeger. I also learned that Laughing Gulls do have a darker breast with a white belly and a dark terminal band on the tail. But with this mystery solved, I still have another one on my hands…

2. laughing gull-kab Immature Laughing Gull 9-6-2014 at Wharton’s Point

I am still trying to figure out these sandpipers. I realize these photos are  not the best, so I have posted the originals, and then a duplicate that is lightened and cropped to see if that helps anyone help me. I went back to the eBird checklist for this location on this day and looked at all the possibilities. I’ve narrowed it down to these choices:

    • White-rumped sandpiper
    • Baird’s Sandpiper
    • Red Knot
    • Stilt Sandpiper

I have eliminated Stilt Sandpiper as an option because the neck and legs are not long enough, the head is not small enough. That leaves me with White-rumped, Baird’s and Red Knot. Baird’s is more rare than the other two, so I am not even considering it at the moment, but would listen to any arguments as to why it could be that species. Both the White-rumped and the Red Knot have a white eyebrow. White-rumped has wing tips that extend beyond the tail, but it looks like red knots do the same, though it does not say that in the bird guides. Red knots have dark tips to their wingtips, but in some images, so do White-rumps. White rumps have a more scaly appearance, and so do these birds, but Red Knots are larger and these birds look large to me, especially when compared to the yellowlegs in the last photo. As you can see, this is what one has to go through when learning a new species and trying to identify a bird. I have pulled out several bird guides and still have not come to a conclusion and I am reluctant to add a species to my eBird list until I am sure. These photos were all posted in the previous post. I am going to share this around the internet again and see if I can get some definitive answers on these sandpipers!

So scroll on down to see what you can see. Any help would be greatly appreciated, but please tell me why you think it is that species!

(We have an answer! See update posted below!)

Disclaimer: I know these photos are bad, but they are all I have!


DSC_0191a Same photo as above but cropped even more and lightened.






DSC_0195 I am not sure this is one of the above sandpipers, but I think it is. It has the same time stamp. I included it to show the bird’s posture and the shape of its bill, which seems to droop slightly at the tip. It also shows the overall scaly appearance to the feathers on the back.


After seeing this photo of a Red knot on the world Shorebird’s Day post I am thinking these are Not Red Knots! What say you? Follow the link to see what I mean and vote if you want to:

DSC_0199 Mystery Sandpipers and yellowlegs 9-6-2014 at Wharton Point

***Update 11:35 AM: After posting to The Facebook Bird ID Group of the World  and Maine Birds the Conclusion is these are Semi-palmated Sandpipers!

A great Big THANK YOU to everyone who helped with this ID!


  1. HI Katie You post has a wonderful selection of waders with great photographs. Not sure about the ID ofl ast bird

  2. Margaret, we have an answer. It is a Semipalmated sandpiper! Thank you for your comment!

  3. Ah bummer! I agree accurate ID is important. Now we all know a Juvenile Laughing Gull:) You find one I think.....soon:)

  4. It's good to know you sorted out the Sandpipers - I didn't think Knots was quite right, but didn't know your Sandpipers well enough, and knew they weren't Sharpies or Pectoral which are our more common ones. Blogs are a good way to learn!


Welcome to my nest! I hope you will enjoy spending time here with me and the birds. Thank you for your comments. I will try to get back to you as soon as I get back from counting more birds.