[Tweeters] unusual godwit images continued

Larry Schwitters lpatters at ix.netcom.com
Sun Sep 18 21:41:20 PDT 2005


The Godwit photos have been visited 180 + times and thanks to the three
of you who expressed their IDs, all for Hudsonian.

This is a more difficult and complicated challenge than expected as
there are three subspecies of Black-tailed Godwit.
1. Icelandic-which breeds in Iceland and winters in Ireland.
2.Limosa-the most common, is found from Eurasia to Africa.
3. Melanuroide-the Asiatic subspecies winters throughout SE Asia and
shows up as far south as southern Australia.
The NA field guides that cover the Black-tailed are showing the first
two subspecies which show up now and again on the east coast.

Melanuroide shows up on the Aleutians but surprisingly has yet to be
recorded on the west coast.

I had some email exchanges with Dr. Angus Wilson of NYU who was kind
enough to look over the Westport bird photos. Here are some of his

More so than the other two subspecies, Melanuroide is very difficult to
distinguish from a Hudsonian.
With Melanuroide size doesn't help your ID much.
Thinness of bill, amount of white showing in front of the eye, mantle
pattern, and a lack of buffy tone on the breast has him leaning towards


The clincher will come with a good view of the underwing. I've had
three underwing views but no photo. A Juvenile Hudsonian underwing is
a very distinctive black. My first view was one or two flaps which
left a no pattern body color impression. Two days later the bird and
his Marbled friends were all flapping and I believe I saw a brighter,
more silver color on the bird in question. Friday the bird all but
flew over four of us but I may have been the only one who got optics on
it. After it landed a main topic of discussion was how come none of us
had been able to focus on and describe the underwing. I suggest that
was because there was nothing distinctive about it.

I suppose all of this doesn't prove anything, but until someone else
gets a look at the birds underwing and sees it black like a Hudsonian
I'm considering it a Black-tailed. There is a high tide at 2:35 PM
tomorrow at Westport. I may be able to make it there with my mini dv.

Larry Schwitters

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