Buff-breasted Sandpiper – A Shorebird With a Gentle Expression
As I mentioned in my previous post about the Western Sandpiper, I was fortunate on the same morning (September 6) to also come across my best looks by far of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The scaly backed buff-coloured plumage was striking and with the very close views I obtained of this seemingly gentle and tame shorebird, there was no confusing it with any other shorebird species.
My ISO settings ranged from 250 to 400, which suggests that lighting conditions were excellent, considering my f-stop was mostly at f/5.6 (wide open for this lens/tc combination). The direction of sunlight was mostly excellent as well and I was able to capture catch lights (i.e., a sparkle) in the eyes in several of the photos that I made.
Buff-breasted Sandpiper has a thin neck and a short straight bill that bears resemblance to a bill on a plover.
The plain light buffy breast with dark spots at breast-sides together with a light buffy throat and chin give this bird an elegant appearance, in my opinion.
One of the species that Buff-breasted Sandpiper may cohabit with during migration is Baird's Sandpiper. In the above photo, I focused on the Baird's Sandpiper and set my aperture to f/10 in an effort to get both the Baird's Sandpiper and Buff-breasted Sandpiper in focus since they were almost in the same focal plane; however, with the short distance to my subjects, even f/10 was not enough to get the Buff-breasted Sandpiper's eye in sharp focus. Nonetheless, the photo provides a good side-by-side comparison between these two species. Two things stand out immediately - Baird's Sandpiper is smaller than Buff-breasted Sandpiper and its dark legs contrast with the yellow legs on Buff-breasted Sandpiper. Baird's Sandpiper has a longer and finer-tipped bill and its stance is more horizontal compared with Buff-breasted's upright stance. The buffier and more plain face of the Buff-breasted Sandpiper also stands out; however, the upperparts of both species look pretty similar in many respects in the above photo.
Both species are long-distance migrants. Baird's Sandpipers travel up to 15,000 km in as little as five weeks while Buff-breasted Sandpipers often cover over 28,970 km during annual movements (O'Brien, Crossley and Karlson 2006).
Above a nice frontal view of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper with its head turned just right to capture a nice catch light in its eye.
In this last photo, we get a good look at the upperparts and thin neck of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
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Buff-breasted Sandpiper Sandpipers, Phalaropes and Allies
Semipalmated Sandpiper Sandpipers, Phalaropes and Allies
Baird’s Sandpiper Sandpipers, Phalaropes and Allies