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Friday, 13 January 2012

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher, Fahamore,13th January 2012 (David O'Connor).
This bird was found originally on 18th November 2011, seen for just two hours in terrible weather. The bill appeared relatively short, and the bird was feeding on the coast alongside Sanderling and Bar-tailed Godwits (in most of the wintering areas in Central and south America, Short-billed Dowitchers tend to be coastal whereas Long-billeds are more often on brackish or freshwater habitats). Despite much searching during the following days and weeks it was not seen again, leaving lingering doubts that it might have been a Short-billed. However, it re-appeared on the same beach nearly two months later, when the above photos finally clinched the identification as a Long-billed. As Killian Mullarney commented, "The dowitcher appears to be a first-winter, with retained juvenile greater coverts and tertials. The plain grey-brown nature of these feathers, lacking internal markings of any kind, indicate that it is a Long-billed; on bill-length (shortish) it is probably a male. Other plumage features such as the more brownish than clean greyish upperparts and the apparently rather dark centres to the winter scapulars lend support to the ID as Long-billed." This is first record for the Dingle Peninsula, the 14th for Kerry, and the first in the county since one at Blennerville in October 2005.