Photographed this sandpiper on Sept.02/17 on the beach across from Long Pond , Anchorage Provincial Park, Grand Manan . Originally looked at it as being a semipalmated sandpiper . After studying my photos I am now considering western sandpiper . Mainly because of the longish bill , light cap, stage of molt and maybe head shape ? It was amongst a flock of 35 semipalmated plover and a single sanderling. Saw and photographed many semipalmated sandpipers while on Grand Manan for the week but none with the appearance of this bird . Hoping someone with more experience and knowledge can ID this bird one way or the other ... thank you !
This bird looks fine for SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER. Its a juvenile. The uniform looking upperparts is consistent with Semipalmated Sandpiper. Juvenile Western Sandpiper should have a two-colored look in the upperparts with strong contrast between darker upper scapulars (which should have chestnut colored edges) and lighter and greyer lower scapulars.
The other features mentioned such as the light cap and head shape also look ok for Semipalmated. I agree that this individual has a rather long bill but this feature is highly variable on both species. I have seen many Western Sandpipers with shorter bills than this one. I have also seen many Semipalmated Sandpipers with bill of similar size as this one.
Over the years, I have seen several thousands Semipalmated Sandpipers and several hundreds Western Sandpipers of different age and different stages of molt. To me, this is just a Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Thank you very much for your superb response regarding my ID question regarding the sandpiper I photographed on Grand Manan, Robert !!! My original thought was Semipalmated but after studying the photos when I returned home I really started to doubt it/myself (that longish bill !!). I was hoping someone could identify it one way or the other and you did exactly that . I appreciate all the greatly detailed info you supplied regarding both semipalmated and western sandpipers and as always will use it as a lesson in the future. Again, thank you for taking the time to respond with the details ... merci beaucoup !!
I agree with Mike, excellent information to differentiate between Semipalmated and Western Sandpipers. Thank you Robert!!