Calidris bairdii – Pibydd Baird – Vagrant
West Angle Beach 20 to 25 August 2012
As I pulled into the car park at West Angle, I noticed a single small Dunlin-type wader in the middle of the beach. On checking the bird with my binoculars, the wader appeared to be very long-winged – with the wings extending well beyond the end of the tail. My initial instinct was that the bird was a Baird’s Sandpiper, but better views were required to rule out the possibility of a White-rumped Sandpiper. On this basis, I picked up my camera and tentatively approached the bird to get better views and hopefully a record pic of the bird. The tide was high at the time, so there was only a narrow band of sand at the top of the beach and the bird was looking a little uneasy due to the presence of several dog walkers. Although alone, with no birds present for size comparison, I had the impression that the bird was the size of a small Dunlin. The bill was black and slightly down-curved, and appeared somewhere between Little Stint and Dunlin in size.
Upperparts: Generally pale brown head and neck with fine dark streaking on crown. Dark lores, and pale creamy supercillia, on occasions looking very faint, meeting in front of eyes to form a pale patch above bill. Cheeks and ear coverts a pale but warm brown colour. Mantle feathers black with clean white borders; scapulars, lesser coverts, median coverts and greater coverts all with dark/black feather centres and primarily white (though sometimes chestnut) borders. Tertials and primaries black with thin white/chestnut borders, with primaries extending well beyond the end of the tail.
Seen in flight only once, when the wings showed only the faintest of wing-bars, and that appeared a slightly paler brown than the rest of the wing. No white rump was present, the rump and mantle appeared a uniformly brown colour when the bird was in flight. Tail was dark in the centre with paler edges.
Underparts: Throat white. Neatly demarcated pectoral band of dark chevrons on a pale buff/brown background. Otherwise, clean white lower breast, belly, flanks and undertail coverts.
Legs: short and black. Call: a short quiet trill that I heard as ‘prrrp’.
It stayed on the same beach until the 26th August and was seen by many observers