7-B-2018 Least Sandpiper

STATUS
Accepted
DATE VOTING COMPLETED
1ST ROUND
7-0
HOW MANY OBSERVED?
8
DATE SIGHTING OCCURRED
DATE REPORT PREPARED
REPORTER
CHERYL A HUIZINGA
OTHER OBSERVERS
None with me at that time but Bill Fields saw them earlier and asked me to check them out as he was unsure of the ID. Others (Denise Hughes, Dale/Dee Toweill, Tim/Debbie Teal) saw them again within the next several days.
LOCALITY OF OBSERVATION
Hwy 95 just south of the Boise River in Canyon Co.
HABITAT WHERE THE BIRD WAS OBSERVED
Flooded field that held very shallow water with lots of grassy spot
SIGHTING DURATION, CONDITIONS, and EQUIPMENT USED
I saw the small shorebirds from my car using my Zeiss 8x42 binoculars. I then got out and used my Zeiss Victory scope to zoom in on the birds to confirm that they were LESA. It was mid-afternoon with sun in the west and I was looking southwest. Not the greatest of conditions but could still get great looks at the birds as they foraged with a number of killdeer. Scoped the birds about 15 minutes until I was sure I had seen all that was there. I am terrible at estimating distance and some of the sandpipers were closer than others - + and _ 50 yds would be my guess.
DID YOU TAKE NOTES?
No, not at all
DID YOU CONSULT A FIELD GUIDE OR OTHER REFERENCE WORK?
Yes, later the same day
WHICH GUIDE(S) OR REFERENCE(S): DID YOU CONSULT?
Checked my Sibley Guide to Birds app on my iphone when got back into car after scoping the birds to make sure I was IDing the birds correctly, but I was fairly confident I had correctly IDed them by then.
DESCRIPTION OF THE BIRD(s)
Small shorebirds foraging in shallow flooded field with grass and mud spots. Smaller than nearby foraging killdeer. Birds were in non-breeding plumage with overall dark grayish- brown backs and breast area. Bills were short, fine and dark and legs were a green-yellow color.
BEHAVIOR OF THE BIRD(s)
They were in crouched feeding position and pecking in shallow water or on wet grassy areas which is typical for this species.
HOW AND WHEN DID YOU POSITIVELY IDENTIFY THE BIRD, AND WHAT CLINCHED THE IDENTIFICATION FOR YOU?
Seeing the birds through my binoculars and then even closer though the scope clinched the ID for me. No other shorebird species is this small with this coloration and behavior.
HOW DID YOU ELIMINATE SIMILAR SPECIES? WHAT WERE THEY?
The other shorebirds that would be similar would be the other small peeps - Western Sandpiper and Semipalmated Sandpiper and both of these have dark legs and different foraging positions.
WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THIS (AND SIMILAR) SPECIES?
In spring and especially fall migration, I see quite a few LESA come through Canyon Co. and are very familiar with non-breeding plumaged birds and their behavior.
DESCRIBE YOUR GENERAL BIRDING EXPERIENCE
Intermediate birder with 16 years of birding experience.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION (If any)
Only that a number of birders saw this same group of shorebirds and all IDed them as Least Sandpipers.
WERE PHOTO(S), VIDEO, AND/OR AUDIO OBTAINED FROM THIS SIGHTING?
None

FIRST ROUND VOTING:

Cliff Weisse
Accept

Though brief the description supports the identification of Least Sandpiper.

Shirley Sturts
Accept

Well described and similar species were eliminated.

Carl Lundblad
Accept

A slightly difficult record to assess, given that no notes were taken, and yet a description is provided (apparently from memory). Nonetheless, this is a relatively easy identification by an experienced observer, corroborated by others, and of a species that is probably only marginally rare at this season (and likely to become more regular in the near future). Least is, by far, the most likely peep to be encountered in the winter.

Doug Ward
Accept

Good description, particularly size and structure (thin bill), and mention of leg color (green-yellow) indicate a positive identification. Remarkable year for the number of Wintering (2017-18) shorebirds in southern Idaho. With this and other species now fairly regular during Winter inland to our south, it seems to portend a warming future.

Dave Trochlell
Accept

I'm convinced.

Jay Carlisle
Accept

key field marks well described

Darren Clark
Accept

Description is good. This is the most likely peep in Idaho during winter.