Western Sandpiper - Calidris mauri

On Thursday 15 August 2019 Wim van Zwieten was photographing shorebirds during upcoming tide at Westhoek, Friesland. This is a very good place to see shorebirds at close range and it has resulted in the past in good species like Broad-billed Sandpiper Calidris falcinellus or White-rumped Sandpiper Calidris fuscicollis (with nine records the best site to find one). Wim had already found a Broad-billed Sandpiper that day, but around 11:00 hours he found a stint that drew his attention, so he took several photographs. Wim continued birding (why not?) and it was only at dinner time he uploaded his pictures to his computer. The stint looked very intriguing, so he asked birding friends on Facebook for help on the identification. The identification of Western Sandpiper was quickly made and at 20:54 hours it was made public on the Dutch Bird Alerts.
The next day the bird was rediscovered around 8:00 hours by Han Zevenhuizen and luckily I was there a minute later. That Friday we could see the bird from a distance at first, but it got closer and closer with the rising tide and we could eventually see the diagnostic features like small size, Dunlin-like bill, striped flanks, darker scapulars with some rufous in contrast with the grey wing coverts and greyish tertials. The bird was present till at least 19 August.

15 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Wim van Zwieten.
One of the pictures during its discovery. Note the arrow-shaped stripes on the side of the breast, the diagnostic pattern of one of the rightmost scapulars, the lack of primary projection and the Dunlin-like bill.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Jan van der Laan. Seen from far away, the shape and size of the bird was obvious.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Jan van der Laan. My own pictures are not the best. Yet the shape and size of the bird are conspicuous.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Leo Boon. Better pictures by Leo Boon, with even some rufous on the scapulars can be seen here.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Leo Boon; the Dunlin-like bill is visible here.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Leo Boon. Dark central uppertail coverts visible here.

16 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Leo Boon; narrow wingstripe visible.

18 August 2019, Westhoek Fr; © Patrick Agterberg.

It was accepted as the first record for the Netherlands. There are c 50 records now in Europe, with most records (c 19) on the Azores. Britain has 10 accepted records, Ireland five, France seven, one in Norway, two on Iceland, one in Sweden and one in Spain. September seems to be the best months in the Western Palearctic with 26 records, followed by August (eight records) and October (seven records), July (three records), November (two) and one in April, May and December.

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