In response to Don's post...
The Red-necked Phalarope i.d. is another good example of David Sibley's talk this past June. Let's face it, the mind can play tricks on us, and sometimes the questions we end up asking ourselves are: 1) are you really seeing that? and 2) are you seeing what you want to see? In this case, I'm now thinking the answer to both questions is: YES!
Before Don, Taj, and Dave showed up, the bird was a bit closer and I got a less-than satisfying look at it before rushing back to the car for a few field guides. I mentioned to the guys the dark cap & back of neck, dark back, white throat and breast, and a bill so thin I didn't see it, but David Sibley's little voice in my head kept asking, "But are you 100% sure?"
This morning, I did a little more research and felt somewhat more confident that the neck seemed a little less bulky than a Red, posture more leaning vs upright, and the wing a little smaller, making it appear a tad triangular. Add to this the fact that this bird was tiny (dwarfed by a nearby Bonaparte's). Our inability to get a definite i.d. on Sunday was not from lack of trying as we stayed on it until lighting was poor and our bodies shivering! But sometimes, in spite of lots of effort, patience, and desire, some we let go! Still, it's been a great learning opportunity!
From: "Donald Jones" <[log in to unmask]>
To: "Vermont Birds" <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, October 5, 2015 8:11:56 PM
Subject: [VTBIRD] Red-necked Phalarope and Baird's Sandpiper - Addison County
This afternoon, I had an adult Red-necked Phalarope in nonbreeding plumage
at the Tri-town Water Treatment Plant in Addison. This is presumably the
same bird first found yesterday by Ali Wagner and seen by myself, Dave Hof,
and Taj Schottland. While it was impossibly distant to ID yesterday,
despite the four of us spending more than half an hour scrutinizing it,
when I spotted the bird this afternoon it was much closer and in better
light. Although still a difficult ID, I was able to pick out the dark
hindcap and neck, messy dark upperparts, and very thin bill. eBird
checklist at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S25311375.
At Whitney Creek, there was a late Baird's Sandpiper present, along with
one Least, two Pectoral, and the continuing dowitcher. I've spent more than
three hours watching this bird in the last two days, and have found it to
be one of the most difficult identifications I've ever faced. After
wavering back and forth, I was definitely leaning toward thinking it was a
Short-billed, although without any confidence. Just this evening, though, I
spoke with Dave Hof, who was at Whitney Creek after me this afternoon and
reported finally hearing vocalizations from the bird. Somewhat to my shock,
he says they were a perfect match for Long-billed! Just goes to show that
there are always birds which will be a challenge, and that it's important
to stay humble. eBird checklist at
Middlebury, VT / Laramie, WY