Color Me Jaded

Although I had a great time during last week’s trip to the coast, I’ll have to admit I wasn’t as excited as I have been at other times. That’s partially because Fall migrations aren’t nearly as intense as Spring migrations – there’s a lot less birds at any one time. Also, many of the birds have shed their breeding plumage and aren’t nearly as striking. And, yes, I suspect after several trips I have become just a tad jaded. It’s no wonder serious birders who’ve done this many times more than I have flock to see rare birds.

Still, there were hundreds of small shorebirds when I reached Bottle Beach. The majority of them were Western Sandpipers in non-breeding plumage,
which certainly makes positive identification harder because, like female ducks, they often look quite similar.

Western Sandpiper

The highlight of the small birds for me, though, was this Semipalmated Plover,

Semipalmated Plover

even though it was wearing its winter plumage and missing the dark band that usually makes it so distinctive.

Equally disappointing, the larger shorebirds never came in very close on the day I was there. These Black-bellied Plovers and Dowitchers were so far out I didn’t even realize there were any dowitchers in the picture until I cropped it and put it on screen.


Most of the Black-Bellied Plovers were anything but black-bellied since they, too, had long since begun to don their winter plumage.

Black-Bellied Plovers

It’s hard to complain, though, when it was one of those rare, warm sunny days on the Washington coast. I lived too long in Aberdeen not to appreciate a sunny late-summer day at the beach.

4 thoughts on “Color Me Jaded”

    1. Unfortunately, it’s the local Aberdeen about 60 miles southwest of Seattle. Still haven’t ever managed to return to my “homeland,” at least the homeland of the Webster part of me.

  1. So Loren, I get the winter plumage keeping them warm, but why the black belly on the plover, and the black band on the semi-palmated version? Black simply more absorbent of the sun? And what does “semi-palmated” mean?

    1. I think the winter plumage simply provides much better camouflage than the Spring plumage, but the Spring plumage stands out enough that the female is more apt to notice the brightest male.

      Apparently semipalmated refers to partial webbing between the toes. (I’ll have to remove the hyphen in the main copy.)

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