[As The Shorebird Guide teaches, "One of the most fundamental steps in identifying a shorebird is to take note of its basic structure. At a minimum this includes looking at how long its legs are and what shape and how long or thick its bill is." To emphasize these features while de-emphasizing plumage aspect, I've reproduced this photo in black and white. Note how the far right and 4th from right birds are extremely long-legged, while the second and third from left are noticeably short-legged. The birds second and third from the left also display a unique posture, with bill pointing skyward, although one could confuse them with the far right bird if one used just a single field character. However, the two characters combined clearly identify birds 2 and 3 as Yellow Peep. Stone Harbor this morning, click to enlarge photos.]
Among Dave LaPuma's predictions for today was a movement of peep, and clearly that happened, with 3 species found on the beach with Sanderlings and Piping Plovers this morning. One wonders what else will show up today?
[Birds 2 & 3 are Yellow Peep, but we needed structure to confirm that. As The Shorebird Guide teaches, plumage aspect is often difficult: "To use plumage details successfully. . .you need to have a good understanding of shorebird topography, molt patterns, and the effects of wear on feathers." Note for example the extreme wear on the flanks of the right-most bird - it looks almost as if something took a bite out of it! This wear pattern is characteristic of Hot Pink Peep, but caution is advised, as flank wear is sometimes seen in Green Peep too, though not normally in spring.]