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Hi MOBirders:

At the last stop of Saturday's StL Aud Soc field trip, at Winfield L & D, I spotted a large stint feeding with the mixed flock in the slough upriver of the access bridge.  Most, maybe all, present had scope looks.  At first glance the bird was slightly bigger overall than the nearby LEAST and SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERs, and this is what initially caught my eye.  It was noticeably longer-legged and also had a fairly long, dunlin-like droopy bill, pointy at the tip.  In fact, I looked carefully at the bird to make sure it wasn't a Dunlin.  The bird had dark legs and was mostly clean white below.  Given the distance from the bridge and heat distortion, feather color was tough to sort out from this spot.

After the group disbanded I moved over to the Sandy Slough Rd. side, went down to the bank and got much closer to the flock.  I was able to relocate the bird and from this point I could see chestnut along the scapulars, although the intensity of the color varied from lighter anterior to darker and richer posterior.  There was pretty good contrast with the gray coverts.  Cornell describes the possibility of "varying amounts of chestnut" on juveniles, and Paulson says, "some juveniles show less intense rufous on upper scapulars, but always present."

So, I believe this bird was a juvenile WESTERN SANDPIPER.  A second bird, matching generally the description of the first came into view later.  I didn't look at it carefully but, based on the rough match, I think it was possibly a second western.

BTW, many thanks to Mike Grant for leading a really fun field trip Saturday.  If he hasn't already I know he'll be filing a good report.

Mike Thelen
Univ City, StL Cnty, MO
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