Comparing Grey-Tailed and Wandering Tattler
Some waders, especially in non-breeding plumage, can be difficult to distinguish in the field, e.g. the Grey-Tailed Tattler and the Wandering Tattler. Wandering Tattlers are less common in Australia then Grey-Tailed.
A quote from: T. Lindsey, Australian Museum, Sydney: In sum, I regard discrimination between the two tattlers as one of the most difficult problems among waders on the Australian list. Lindsey has shared his knowledge in this document: https://birdsqueensland.org.au/downloads/tattlers_comparison_table.pdf
I have collected a few shots showing some of the most frequently quoted characteristics, when it comes to separating Wandering- and Grey-Tailed Tattlers.
- The supercilium does not merge above the bill on Wandering Tattlers. (The supercilium is a plumage feature found on the heads of some bird species. It is a stripe which runs from the base of the bird's beak above its eye, finishing somewhere towards the rear of the bird's head [Wikipaedia]) [photo-pair 1]
- The supercilium goes significantly beyond the eye on Grey-Tailed Tattlers and is barely visible beyond the eye on Wandering Tattlers. [photo-pair 2]
- The Wandering Tattler is slightly the larger of the two and of darker appearance (the two birds in the third photo pair were sitting next to each other (about half a meter apart) and the processing settings for the photos are exactly the same. The bill is supposed to be more robust and darker on the Wandering Tattler
- The nasal groove on the bill is significantly longer for the Wandering Tattler (experts say to be about 2/3 of the length of the bill and max. half the bill length for a Grey-Tailed Tattler. This is difficult to see in the field, but helpful when checking the ID using photographs [photo-pair 4]
- The call is different, although I must say the only Wandering Tattler I have seen did not call.
The TTG Backlight web tools, which I use for the production of my own website, allow me to compare two photos in a very elegant way by swiping a slider to transition from one shot to another. I have used this new function to show photos from a Grey-Tailed (left photos) and Wandering Tattler (right photo).
At last it must be said, that - having seen just one Wandering Tattler - I am far from being a reference expert :-)!
Have fun and if you like, feel free to provide comments via the Contact page!