Sunday, 24 November 2013

Wader mystery revisited

I posted a photo of two small wading birds, photographed at Mungalla Station near Ingham Qld, a fews weeks ago (see Mungalla Station part 2).

In this post, I had assumed the bird on the far left was a Red-necked Stint and wondered what the apparently smaller bird just to its right might be. The sizes can be judged relative to the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers on the right.

Since then, I have re-examined the original images and run them past a few colleagues and the longer we look at them the less sure we are.

The main problem is that the legs are not black. I initially passed this off as due to mud but closer examination makes this questionable. The legs appear to be a dull yellow. As you can see from the image above, the late afternoon light gives an exaggerated yellow in the photograph so I went back to the original raw files and neutralised the colour-balance. Here are the only 4 images I took of these two birds with no other manipulation (apart from colour balance neutralised).

Click on the images to show full size (100% resolution of original images, heavily cropped)

And here's the "smaller" bird by itself taken just a few minutes before the sequence above.

So, any suggestions for what species they may be?

Update 25 Nov:
Thanks to all those who emailed me on this. Consensus of opinion is that the two birds are Red-necked Stints, most likely first year birds with worn plumage (it's a long way from Siberia your first time!)


  1. Hi Ian. What about a Long toed Stint?

  2. HI Margaret,
    That was one of my options too as they certainly have yellowish legs but the plumage was not quite right. It looks like popular opinion suggests that my original ID as Red-necked Stint was correct. It's amazing how the longer you look at something the less sure you can be sometimes…often best to stick with first impression :-)
    Cheers, Ian


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