FIELDCRAFT

JU­VE­NILE WADERS

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

When many of us were grow­ing up, even the most thor­ough field guides of birds tended to have illustrations of only a lim­ited range of bird plumages, par­tic­u­larly with birds such as waders. There would be a pic­ture of a ‘typ­i­cal’ breed­ing adult and, if you were ‘lucky,’ one of the win­ter plumage, per­haps tucked away. Ju­ve­niles? For­get it. Yet, ju­ve­niles are of­ten the most com­monly seen plumage of many Arc­tic breed­ing waders, es­pe­cially at this time of year. Con­trary to ex­pec­ta­tions, wader ju­ve­niles are of­ten very neat and at­trac­tive (un­like the scruffy young land birds you get hop­ping around on your lawn.) Ju­ve­niles are this year’s crop of young­sters, hatched ear­lier in the spring or sum­mer. So, the plumage is fresh and ‘clean’ (while adults will be moult­ing and of­ten patchy and scruffy look­ing). As a gen­er­al­i­sa­tion, wing and back feath­ers are usu­ally evenly fringed with buff or white, cre­at­ing a reg­u­lar, ‘scal­loped’ ef­fect. There may be buff in­fu­sion on the un­der­parts, (such as with Ruff or the peachy breasts of ju­ve­nile Curlew Sand­pipers). Some are densely barred, such as the ju­ve­nile Spot­ted Red­shank (right), which looks noth­ing like ei­ther a sum­mer or win­ter adult. Get a de­cent bird book, such as the Collins, and study the ju­ve­nile waders. See which you can pick out, this month.

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