Lesser- and Greater Sandplover at Lake Wollumboola

Some waders, especially in non-breeding plumage, are still difficult for me to distinguish in the field, e.g. the Greater- and Lesser Sandplovers. When our daughter Christine and I recently visited Lake Wollumboola to twitch the White-rumped Sandplover, we also encountered some other Sandplovers. One of the birds was banded and Christine has sent the respective info to the Australasian Wader Studies Group and we have got some interesting information back:

Roger Standen wrote: " ... the bird was flagged at Kamchatka (eastern Russia) early in 2014. It is actually black/yellow and they accidentally flagged a group with their code upside down - i.e. should have been yellow/black ..."

At first I was convinced this would be a Lesser Sandplover, but not being that experienced, I have asked some birders who are much more experienced than I am. The response was interesting, a third of them said "Lesser" another third "Greater" and the rest: "Interesting, difficult to say ...". And here I was, not any further than before, but Roger added:

" ... Now - greater or lesser. ... This photo is not clearly a lesser or greater according to my cohort here, but what probably clinches the deal is that I don't think greaters get to Kamchatka so that probably makes it a lesser ..."

I have ticked this bird as Lesser Sandplover. For those who are interested, I am publishing the photos taken at Lake Wollumboola here. During our visit we saw another Sandplover which I believe could be a Greater, although my uncertainties remain, so feel free to let me know should you disagree, I am preapred to stand corrected. My opinion is mainly based on the information contained in the linked document below, which is a good source for more information how to separate specifically Greater and Lesser Sandplovers. It is titled: Identification, taxonomy and distribution of Greater and Lesser Sand Plovers by Erik Hirschfeld et al.


More recently, the Lesser Sand-plovers have been split into the Tibetan - and Siberian Sand Plover. More information about this split can be found in this document: Taxonomy, phylogenetic history and identification of sand plover complex.

Feel free to provide comments via the Contact page