Monday, August 13, 2012

Subtle Stubble Shades

Buff-breasted Sandpiper is a high arctic-breeding shorebird that undergoes a remarkable annual migration to the grasslands of southern South America. The soft yet subtly beautiful coloration combined with their delicate shape makes them a thing of great beauty to behold. This colouration also makes them adept at camouflaging in stubble field and some other anthropogenically modified habitats along their migration route. Even when they occur in large flocks, they can be remarkably difficult to spot and most sightings necessitate patience and skill on the part of the observer, especially as this species appears to be in decline.

Here is a small sample of a flock (104 birds counted in total) of Buff-breasted Sandpipers that touched down near Oak Hammock Marsh, Manitoba yesterday. The first photo is shown in four different formats. Look at the first photo and try to count as many Buff-breasted Sandpipers as you can as you can (the larger silver birds are the species that  I like to call Silver Plover, better known as Black-bellied Plover in North America or Grey Plover elsewhere. It is easier if you click on the photo to view it larger. Next, I inserted a red asterisk on top of each bird to help you count.  If you found that difficult, look at the next two photos. In this case, I pasted the right hand half of the photo on top of the left to make things a little bigger and easier to view. Can you spot all these Buff-breasted Sandpipers now? After that I added a closer shot of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the ground and two in flight to show their beautiful underwing pattern that they use for display on the leks.  Enjoy!

So, how did you do – were you able to see all 17 Buff-breasted Sandpipers in the photo?

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