Friday, November 14, 2014 Dunlins and Pribilof Rock Sandpipers

Seward, Alaska

A great divide loomed over Seward today; sunny and bright to the north and cloudy to the south. The sun did not clear that thick gray blanket stretching from the Gulf of Alaska, and so we could only admire the blue sky and bright snowy peaks from afar. Freezing temperatures last night frosted the ground and refroze our ponds and lakes, except at the inlets and outlets, concentrating the waterfowl, and perhaps forcing some to migrate.

I managed to refind the tiny flock of sandpipers that I first found on Wednesday. The dark “mainland” ROCK SANDPIPER was missing, but two light “Pribilof” ROCK SANDPIPERS blended in nicely with the 6 DUNLINS. Close examination revealed their slightly larger size, shorter bill, and minute plumage differences. 

It would be easy (at least for me) to miss a dunlin in a flock of Pribilof rock sandpipers. Actually, it’s easy to miss the sandpipers period as they resemble little gray brown rocks when they are not moving. This is what makes sandpipers and gulls so challenging and interesting!

Thanks to Rich Macintosh and Scott Schuette for helping me to see the differences.  I hope my photos will help you!

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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