Things came to a head on Sunday when there was suggestion that is a Western Sandpiper.
While both species can occur in November, Western is more likely at a later date.
I saw the bird on Saturday under such brutal conditions (it was the weekend!) that I did not bring a scope. I assumed at the time it was a Semipalmated Sandpiper as originally identified.
While I was birding at Sarnia on Sunday, I received an email saying that the bird was a Western. I prompted Steve to look into it!
Steve sent out some requests for review and received several responses. Of the 11 I looked at, five said it was certainly a Western Sandpiper, two said Semipalmated, and four said probably Western.
There will be more opinions to come no doubt.
These two species can be controversial at times and I have read debates on this before. Sometimes there is not 100% agreement.
I looked at eBird records of both species in November. Of course eBird is only as good as the data inputed, so I am sure there are more records out there.
I found that there were several records of Semipalmated Sandpiper early in November, while most of the Western Sandpiper records are mid to late in the month plus a couple of December records.
Western Sandpiper winters farther north, so it makes sense that records are later.
It seems more likely that the Blenheim bird would be a Western Sandpiper at this date.
Here are the late records of Western Sandpiper that I found on eBird in southern Ontario:
2 November 1997 Point Pelee
15 November 1970 Port Colborne
16 November 1997 Rodney
24-28 November 1986 Taquanyah C.A. (Haldimand)
1-3 December 1988 Oshawa Second Marsh
16 December 2001 Rondeau Provincial Park (2 birds) -CBC record -fide P. Allen Woodliffe
Personally I think is most likely a Western based on the photos I have seen. Allen Woodliffe has some decent photos and I heard that there were some good ones taken today by others. I only have access to the initial photos taken by Steve Charbonneau (see below).
One thing to look at is the bill. Western has a longer bill and this seems longish to me. However, there can be overlap as short male Westerns overlap with long female Semipalmated. A Western also has a slight droop to the bill. The second photo shows a hint of this.
|Photos by Steve Charbonneau|
Mike Bouman has obtained some good photos and here is one.
|photo by Mike Bouman|