Friday 8 March 2013

That Pak Thale Stint again.

A few blogs ago I presented some photographs of a stint Elis and I saw and photographed in Pak Thale in Thailand. We thought at the time it might be a Little Stint which would have been a good record; it is considered a rare winter visitor or at best uncommon in Thailand. We didn't have time to study the bird on site so Elis took some photos and we moved on, here are the best of them.

When we returned to the UK I looked at the photos in some detail and thought that I was probably correct that it was a very worn juvenile Little Stint. I sent the photos to Tony Prater via Don Taylor for his opinion. Sadly his opinion did not match mine as you can see on the blog (scroll done to 13th Jan 2013). I left it there and thought no more about it until the other day when Dave Bakewell who lives in Malaysia posted a comment suggesting that he agreed with the Little Stint identification. I sent him the photos and he wrote an interesting blog supporting his (and my) identification which you can see here:

When you have read the blog about the stint, don't stop there, add this blog to your list, Dave writes some excellent blogs many of which tackle difficult identification subjects such as Swinhoe's and Pintail Snipe. It is well written , clear and well informed, definitely worth a read.

At the end of the blog Dave mentions a theory that has been raised by Catherine Hamilton that Nearctic 'peeps' can be separated from Palearctic 'stints' by the 'gape notch', those in the nearctic having little or no notch and the Palearctic birds having an obvious notch. The jury is still out on this of course and from photos I would say there is some jsutification in the assertion, but I can't say that 100% of the photos I looked at were conclusive. Here is Catherine's note on the ABA blog:

Here are some of our own photos showing the feature.

Palearctic stints:
Red-necked Stint taken at Pak Thale in Thailand November 2012.
Note the fairly pronounced 'gape notch'
Photo: Elis Simpson

Here is 'our' Little Stint also taken Pak Thale November 2012
Again shows ditinct nothc at gape.
Photo: Elis Simpson
'Neararctic peeps':

Semipalmated Sandpiper taken in Connecticut May 2012.
Note the lack of obvious gape notch on this bird.
Photo: Elis Simpson

Western Sandpiper taken on Gulf of Mexico coast, Florida November 2012.
This bird fits the no notch theory rather well.
Photo: Elis Simpson
Western Sandpiper taken on Atlantic coast, Florida November 2012.
This bird doesn't fit the theory so well.
Photo: Elis Simpson.

It doesn't work with Least Sandpiper though as Catherine herself suggested:

Least Sandpiper taken in Connecticut May 2012.
Distinct notch visible
Photo: Elis Simpson
Least Sandpiper taken in California December 2012.
Again bill base notched.
Photo: Elis Simpson
Sadly we don't have a decent photo of a Long-toed Stint to add here so here is one by David Bakewell with his kind permission from his blog Dig Deep. Although the gape notch is of no use here, the brown patch on the base of the lower mandible on the Long-toed Stint is usually reliable.

Long-toed Stint. Photo: David Bakewell

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