[Tweeters] WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER at Iona Island (B.C.)

Wayne C. Weber contopus at telus.net
Mon Aug 22 14:53:38 PDT 2005


This morning, August 22, a juvenile WHITE-RUMPED SANDPIPER was
found in the southeast pond at the Iona Island sewage plant in Richmond,
near the Vancouver airport. This appears to be the first record of a
White-rumped in the Vancouver area in several years.

The information I have is that the White-rump was spotted sometime before
10 AM by John King, a visiting birder from California. It was also seen at
least by Rick Toochin, who spread the word by phone.

When I arrived at about 11 AM, the White-rump, with other sandpipers,
had flown out of the sewage ponds, but had been relocated in a peep
flock on the tideflats between the north and south jetties of Iona Island
(i.e., directly west of the public washrooms.  It had temporarily melted
into the flock, but was found again about 11:15, eventually flying and
coming much closer to the shoreline. It was well seen by at least a
dozen local birders, and I believe a couple of them got photos.

The White-rump was hard to pick out at a distance among the Western
Sandpipers, but much easier when it moved closer (less than 30 metres
away). It was clearly a juvenile, as evidenced by the obvious pale edgings
on the wing coverts and scapulars. However, the bird lacked the reddish
tones on the crown and back that are sometimes seen in this species. It had
a noticeable white superciliary stripe; there was a grayish suffusion across
the breast, and a few streaks leading backward from the side of the breast.
It had none of the strong buffy tones on the head and breast that are
typical of juvenile Baird's Sandpipers (of which there were a couple in the
flock). The white patch across the upper tail coverts was seen very clearly
several times when the bird was preening. The very high-pitched,
characteristic flight call of the species was also heard a couple of times.

The White-rumped appeared to be similar in size and shape to the Baird's
Sandpipers. It was noticeable longer, and appeared to be about 50% bulkier,
than the numerous Western Sandpipers. The primary feathers were very long
(as in Baird's Sandpiper), and the primary tips even appeared to cross over
each other when the bird was feeding. These long primaries gave the bird a
longer, leaner look that the nearby Western and Least Sandpipers.

Also present in the flock with the White-rump were (approximate numbers):

Western Sandpiper  300
Least Sandpiper  10
Baird's Sandpiper  2
Semipalmated Plover  3

The peep flock flew much farther out, beyond viewing range, about 12 noon.

It is quite possible that the White-rump may return to the sewage ponds this
evening when the tide is high.  This morning's high tide was 13.5 feet
(4.1 metres) at 7:45 AM;  the evening high tide is very high, 15.7 feet (4.8
metres) at 8:40 PM.  (Sunset is about 8:15).  However, the tide should be
high enough by 6:30 PM to force many of the shorebirds into the sewage
ponds. Good luck to anyone looking for the White-rump!

Wayne C. Weber
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net

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