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.