Re: Common Ringed Plover on Morro Bay Sandspit

Thomas Slater

Photo of bird attached.

On Thursday, October 1, 2020, 8:04 PM, Thomas Slater <tomslaterphotography@...> wrote:

Next time attach a photo? Or a link to your ebird?  Thank you.

On Thursday, October 1, 2020, 7:32 PM, Kevin Zimmer via <kjzimmerphd@...> wrote:


At around 1130h this morning, I found and photographed a male Common Ringed Plover in alternate plumage on the ocean side of the Morro Bay Sand Spit near dune marker #6.  I parked in the parking lot at the end of Sand Spit Road in Montaña de Oro SP, and took the trail that leads down to the beach.  From there, I would estimate that it is about 4 mile hike (one-way) to where I saw the bird.  It was loafing in the wrack line, well off the beach, loosely associated with 50+ Semipalmated Plovers and 20+ Snowy Plovers, and a bunch of Sanderlings and Least and Western sandpipers.

The key in looking for this bird is that it was the only ringed plover-type still in alternate plumage.  None of the 150+ Semipalmated Plovers that I saw along the spit today or on 9/23 were in alternate plumage.  So, this bird should grab your attention.  Key marks to separate it from a  like-plumaged Semipalmated Plover are as follows:  1) prominent, long white brow above the black mask; 2) longer bill, with more extensive orange at the base; 3) black of mask meets the bill at the gape or just below (in Semipalmated, the mask joins the bill above the gape line); 4) paler and grayer-brown coloration of the upper parts in Common Ringed (SP is darker and browner); and 5) really hard to see in the field, but it does show in some of my photos, is that Common Ringed lacks webbing between the toes, whereas SP has a little webbing at the base.  The vocalizations are a good clue, but you need comparative experience.

I couldn't really examine my photos very well in the harsh, nearly mid-day light conditions, so I did not even attempt to call this in while I was out there.  I was still watching it when all of the plovers and nearby Sanderlings burst into flight, as a response to a passing Merlin.  Almost thought I heard one mellow CRPL-like call amongst the other calls when all of the birds flushed, but couldn't be sure.  The birds flew hundreds of meters to the north along the sand spit, but I couldn't relocate THE bird, and I was still looking at a minimum 4-mile walk back to my car, so I gave up.

It was VERY WARM today, and is supposed to be that way again tomorrow, and the hike is a long one (with a steep uphill through loose sand at the end to get back to the parking lot), so take LOTS OF WATER.

I did photograph a Mountain Plover out on the spit today also, as well as what I assume is the same melanistic Western Sandpiper that I photographed on 9/23.

Finally, I did attempt to post this to the Group Me text message alert, when I first got home late this afternoon.  Apparently, that message did not post, although I don’t understand why my queries to Jeff Miller went through, but the plover post didn’t.  Jim Royer, perhaps you can sort this out?

Oh, and Bart Beckman:  Sorry to have troubled you, but I was trying to get the rare bird info to post, and no way for me to find out if it was working without “chatting” with others.  Seemed kind of important!

Kevin Zimmer

Inline image

Join to automatically receive all group messages.