Sunday, 25 September 2011

The Lesser Yellowlegs.

At around 5.00pm yesterday the RBA pager alerted me to a bird which definitely made my eyes light up. I sent a text to a man I know well to enquire if the bird was 'his' - knowing all the time what the answer was going to be - to be told at precisely 5.04pm that 'yes it was'....I was on my way to Glasson Dock to have the bird pointed out to me immediately, though in the hour I spent there the views could never have been regarded as brilliant - in fact it eventually went out of view and has never been seen since - but I was looking at a bird which has become familiar to me, my fifth Lesser Yellowlegs, also noted on the visit were 3 Spotted Redshank.

Lesser Yellowlegs.Dave Appleton.

The Lesser Yellowlegs (LY) breeds in eastern Alaska and across much of Canada, some winter in southern USA and Central America, but the majority winter in the West Indies and South America. The species is an annual vagrant to Britain the most of which are juveniles which occur - as all mine have done - in September and October. The LY used to be a major rarity and the first Lancashire record didn't come until 1965 at Freckleton Sewage Farm. On a personal level my five LY's are....

   18 October 1995 Eric Morecambe complex Leighton Moss.
   13 September 1997 Eric Morecambe complex Leighton Moss.
* 18 October 1997 Banks Marsh
   12 September 2002 Eagland Hill, Fylde.
   24 September 2011 Lune Estuary, Glasson Dock.

* A bird was seen at Banks Marsh in October 1997 and was joined by a second one in December, but thats another story and an interesting one too....perhaps some other time.

Greater Yellowlegs. Dave Appleton.

For comparison the Greater Yellowlegs is in my opinion reminiscent of the Greenshank especially given poor views in poor light. The Lesser Yellowlegs is much more reminiscent of the juvenile Redshank given the same poor viewing circumstances. However, it is a slimmer more elegant bird than the Redshank, its longer neck and attenuated look are good pointers to ID, but its main features are its long ochre-yellow legs. But the ID of both LY and GY are examples of the kind of skills I personally admire and I have respect for the many birders I know with the ability to know what they're looking at, take it from me, only earlier this week a reported LY turned out to be a juvenile Redshank.

I'm grateful to Dave Appleton me to use his excellent images of both these birds.  

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