Saturday, November 15, 2014

World Shorebird’s Day Challenges me with some Mystery Birds

1. Yellowlegs-kab Yellowlegs in Flight at Wharton Point 9-6-14

I’ll make no bones about it. I am still learning my shorebirds, so when I went out to count birds on World Shorebirds Day at Wharton’s Point in Brunswick, Maine, wouldn’t you know I would encounter some bird species I could not identify. This is, of course, an excellent opportunity to learn, but I think I need some help with some of these. I could tell they were different, but have yet to figure out who they are! However, I do know Black-bellied Plovers and Double-crested Cormorants when I see them!

DSC_0164Black-bellied Plovers with Double-crested Cormorants in the bay.


DSC_0166 Double-crested Cormorants in Maquoit Bay 9-6-14

These Snowy Egrets below were pretty easy to figure out!

DSC_0167 In spite of the tall grasses, their white feathers are a beacon against the green and gold!

But then I spotted this fellow bobbing in the waves!

DSC_0170 Mystery Bird #1

Notice the way is rides in the water. It is different than a gull.

DSC_0168 This is it in comparison to some gulls. The mystery bird is on the right.

Suddenly the bird took flight and I snapped some shots.

DSC_0173 Notice the gray to brownish breast, the white belly, the dark legs, and the gray to brown terminal band on the tail. I cannot find a picture like this in my bird guide, except maybe a jaeger? Perhaps a shearwater? But I could not find one colored like this.

DSC_0174 Here’s another shot as it banked and turned.


DSC_0175 This is hugely cropped, but this is the best view from below.

Any ideas anyone?

Update: I now believe this is a Parasitic Jaeger and have added it to my eBird checklist for this day! (see correction below)

11-19-14 **Double Update: This is an immature Laughing gull!  

I have now deleted Jaeger from my eBird checklist and added Laughing Gull. Thank you Doug Hitchcock and Kyle Lima for your help!

DSC_0179 This Greater Yellowlegs is much easier to identify!


DSC_0182 I love to watch them feeding in the water by sweeping their heads back and forth!

You can see that those long legs are very useful!


DSC_0184 Front view of the Greater yellowlegs in the surf.

But then there were these two to baffle me again.

DSC_0191 They are about the size of a Black-bellied plover, but the bill isn’t right.




DSC_0195 Any ideas anyone with more shorebird experience than me?

In the shot below you can see their size in relation to the yellowlegs.

Once I get this figured out I will post the answers here.

World Shorebird’s Day sure was fun as well as a challenge!

DSC_0199 Now that winter is almost here, all these shorebirds are long gone.

But the good news is, we have our winter birds returning!



  1. This looks like the light morph of a subadult Parasitic Jaeger. It does pass through that area during migration. Don't think it's a Skua. Well, that's just my 4 cents anyhow.....

  2. It's hard to tell from the Photos and because we have different shorebirds to you, Kathie, but could they possibly be Knots?

    1. Happy wanderer, I don't know. I will have to check that out. Thanks for the tip.

    2. Oh my goodness, happy wanderer, you might be right! I just looked it up and this could be them in winter plumage! The size, bill, and coloring all look right! THANK YOU!

  3. Most shore birds are a mystery to me Kathie, I just don't see enough of them. Great shot of the Egrets.

    1. Me too, Roy! and this time of year is especially challenging!

  4. Having looked up my books Kathie, it could very well be a Knot as Happy Wanderers has said. We get them in Winter on the shoreline, but they are quite a Globe trotter and the plumage varies so much over the year.

    1. Roy, I finally posted to a bird ID group and the consensus is these are Semipalmated Sandpipers. They just looked so big to me in comparison to the yellowlegs that I was confused. So...mystery solved! Thank you for trying to help!


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.