This presumed Semipalmated Sandpiper was photographed Mitchell Lake Audubon Center, San Antonio, Bexar county, Texas on the rather late date of November 10, 2012. I feel that almost all the features point to Semipalmated Sandpiper (SESA), but it was a striking individual - in part because as a late bird is was the lone juvenile SESA among many Least Sandpipers (LESA) and a small number of Western Sandpipers (WESA) that were all in partial or complete basic plumage.
Features of note:
- the warm brown tones to the crown, mantle and back; this was what got my attention when I first saw it from quite a distance!
- the complete juvenile plumage except for two first-basic feathers in the center of the lower mantle/upper back.
- the obvious - yet not particularly large - webbing between the toes.
- the short, straight, deep-based bill with a somewhat thickish and broad tip.
- the squarish head shape evident in all the photos (more WESA-like in this respect?).
- the pale gray (streaked white) band below each lateral crown side and the whitish supercilium (again more WESA-like).
- the pattern of the larger, lower scaps: the dark mark near the tip being much more diamond-shaped than anchor-shaped (again more WESA-like).
- the strong rufous (chestnut, almost) fringing to a few of the uppermost scapulars where they meet the back feathers (just how much rufous can a worn juv. SESA have in this area by November 10?).
Incidentally, I feel that but for the webbed toes this would look an awful lot like a worn Red-necked Stint! (and see one of the lower images for more in this...)
NOTE: in the image below how the toe webbing seems to have disappeared! were this this only image showing the toes, it could easily mislead one into thinking the bird lacked toe-webbing. I salutary lesson for all - especially me... :