Sunday, 3 September 2017

A confiding Red-necked Stint

More than one approachable today, as a small group of adult Red-necked Stints Calidris ruficollis ventured close enough to photograph at San Liao Wan. However, problems of a different sort were introduced by the heat, meaning that shots would not be the sharpest due to haze; this despite some individuals being just ten metres away. The first individual is perhaps the most interesting as it seems to show a bit more tarsi than the others and has a slimmer-looking rear end due to heavily worn tertials and some missing scapulars. However, the structural similarities to Little Stint Calidris minuta end when one looks at the big head, thick-based bill, and rather 'full' vent.

No surprises with any of the other birds, though, which were all typical Red-necked Stints by any yardstick. Some had replaced nothing more than just a few head feathers and a handful of feathers in the mantle/scapulars, and these retained plenty of 'evidence' of summer plumage. Others had practically finished their head/body moults and had just the flight feathers to go. Regardless of condition, all had 'as much bird behind the legs as in front' (i.e. they were evenly proportioned and had centrally-placed legs), and all peculiarly appeared 'bigger-eyed' than Little Stint!

For the sake of completeness, I took a similarly wobbly video of a moulting adult Red-necked Stint to the one I took of the Little Stint posted here. The only differences I can see in feeding pattern between these two individuals is that the Red-necked Stint often 'reaches' for food by extending its neck, whereas the Little Stint prefers to remain hunched and pecks only at items close to its body. This variation may be nothing more than individual or relate to the conditions (different locations and weather). The back end of the Little Stint is also consistently held much higher than is the back end of the Red-necked Stint, something I've made much of ad nauseum elsewhere!

If you look at my blog posts for August in previous years, it's all Little Stints with the odd Red-necked Stint thrown in for good measure. This is the case as I'm hopeful of some Nearctic Calidris unexpectedly popping up in the middle of the flock whilst I'm conveniently sat there with my camera (my interest in Little Stints isn't really as strong as all the posts suggest). Posts of such nature tend to peter out in September, when the floodgates really open and many thousands of Red-necked Stints come pouring through Taiwan. There were many hundreds around on Sunday, and with no juveniles yet to speak of, this is still just the tip of the iceberg. When it all gets totally overfacing, I tend to turn my attentions elsewhere, and it does seem likely that this is going to happen soon! Above photos taken at San Liao Wan, Tainan County 3/9/17.

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