Chasing a rare bird is always an adventure. You never know if when you get there, the bird will be gone. The worst scenario is when you arrive and a bunch of assembled birders, who have just seen the bird, greet you with "you just missed it."
So we were lucky when we went to the NH coast a few days ago, to find the rare Curlew Sandpiper, the bird was just where it was supposed to be. We had wonderful views and I got photos.
There are only 5 previous records for this bird in NH. There is an excellent account of this bird, with 5 photos, including one in flight, in our new The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America, the most complete photo guide ever published. Quote:
Calidris ferruginea L 8 1/2"
Rare Asian vagrant to the East and West Coasts; casual inland.
"Shape: Like Dunlin but with slightly longer legs and neck and a finer-tipped more evenly downcurved bill. Wing tips extend beyond tail tip; primary projection past tertials about as long as lore (Dunlin's wing tips fall short of tail tip, primary projection shorter than lore.) Ad. Summer: M. dark brick-red head, neck and underparts except for white undertail coverts with dark spots; white eye-ring. F. finely mottled black and white with traces of reddish brown on face, scapulars, and belly; whitish eyebrow. Dark legs. Ad. Winter: Unmarked gray above. Head, sides of breast, and neck finely streaked with gray and white; central breast usually clear; prominent whitish eyebrow (indistinct in similar Dunlin) contrasts with dark crown. Dark legs. Similar Stilt Sandpiper has longer and yellowish legs. Juv: (Jul. - Nov.) Upperparts grayish brown with fine buff margins to feathers, creating scaled appearance. Breast with buffy wash and some darker fine streaking along sides. Dark legs. Similar Stilt Sandpiper has longer and yellowish legs. Flight: Bold white wing-stripe; white rump, gray tail. Toes project just past tail. Hab. Wet tundra in summer, mudflats, beaches, shorelines in winter. Voice: Rapid burst of ch'd'deet ch'd'deet given on breeding grounds.
Subspp: Monotypic. Hybrids: Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (hybrid called "Cooper's Sandpiper"), Pectoral Sandpiper (hybrid called "Cox'x Sandpiper").
We have more information in our new guide and we're proud of it. A birder needs extensive information when a bird like this shows up in his/her area to aid in ID. Will you be ready to ID the Curlew Sandpiper?