14-B-2019 Upland Sandpiper

STATUS
Pending
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
1
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
Jim DeWitt
OTHER OBSERVERS
None
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Camas Prairie, Centennial Marsh, about 1/2 Mile south of U.S. 20 on 900 N, on the easterly side of the road, perhaps 200 feet off the road
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Fallow farm field, mostly still under snow but with open patches near stream courses.
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I was photographing a small flock of Long-billed Curlews closer in when I heard the very distinctive wolf-whistle call of the Upland Sandpiper. It was the call that made me look for the bird; I heard it before I saw it. The bird was further off the road, too far (and into the morning sunlight) for a decent photo, but the comparatively small head, over-sized eyes, long neck and relatively short, straight bill were unmistakeable.

All observations were from inside by vehicle.

I lived in Alaska for man years, and UPSA breed there. I’m pretty familiar with the bird, its calls and behavior.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
Yes, later the same day
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
No, not at all
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
The bird was strongly backlit, but with binoculars I was able to clearly see the comparatively small head, over-sized eyes, long neck and relatively short, straight bill.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
As I observed the bird, it called, and I heard that very distinctive wolf-whistle call.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
Immediately upon first hearing the call I knew there was an UPSA nearby. Watching it call and hearing the call clinched it.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
Unlikely to confuse it with another species, but the short bill and long neck are very distinctive. And I observed it as it called.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
Pretty extensive. The species breeds in open field and alpine slopes in interior Alaska where I have watched and photographed it many times.

Many shorebirds migrate through Alaska and I've seen many of those. I suppose Willet is the closest similar species, but it's very hard to confuse the chunkier, longer-billed Willet with an Upland Sandpiper, even backlit. Maybe especially backlit.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Pretty extensive; 25 years or so of birding, over 2,000 species on my life list. I have photographed over 1,200 species. I research and write a weekly "Bird of the Week" for two blogs.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
I did not realize it was a (comparatively) rare species in Idaho when I observed it. I did not take photos because the light was so bad and I didn't need more bad photos of the species. Heidi Ware Carlisle has already taken me to task for not getting even a bad photo. My bad. Lesson learned.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
None