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Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs: an autumn gallery

Photos by Bruce Mactavish

Comments edited by Ricard Gutiérrez

Introduction 

Identification of both Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes (Lesser Yellowlegs) and Tringa melanoleuca (Greater Yellowlegs) is somewhat straightforward in normal conditions in Europe. Beyond wing pattern and leg colour plus other features such as call, bill length and proportions, it is the assumption that while melanoleuca is more or less recalling the Eurasian Greenshank T.nebularia in built and structure, flavipes is something more delicate than the Common Redshank T.totanus between it and Marsh Sandpiper T.stagnatilis in structure.

However it appears that not all birds are that easy. An observation in September 2006 of a lone bird at As Forcadas reservoir, A Coruña, Galicia that even appeared to call trisillabic notes and showed a somewhat thick and even upcurved bill (see photos here) caused some illusion effect before telling it as a proper Lesser Yellowlegs. 

Bruce Mactavish, from Saint John, Newfoundland,  commented the following on the As Forcadas, Spain, September-October 2006 bird: 

'The bill on this bird is oddly thick in relation to the length.  Unlike the taper thin bills typical of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs.  The bill seems the right length for a Lesser Yellowlegs being less than 1 ¼  times the length of the head and similar to the length of the tibia   The small head, skinny neck and light weight body feel in proportion right for a Lesser Yellowlegs. Juvenile Lesser Yellowlegs are prone to show more brownish tones in the head, neck and upper breast.  I think I see this on your bird. 

I don’t normally pay much attention to yellowlegs.  We usually look at the bill length when picking out Lessers from the more abundant Greaters. But then we stop looking. Most identifications are a combination of subtle features we don’t even think about. Jizz identification'. 

Given the possibility of confusion between both species it seems interesting to show here a gallery of pictures of both Yellowlegs from Canada compared with the Spanish odd bird all taken in the same week from late September-early October 2006. We include three further pictures of Lesser Yellowlegs from Spain in other autumn-winter dates.

Photographs

Photos from Newfoundland by ©Bruce Mactavish. Spanish birds: upper two (©Samuel Paz) and three others below (see authors)


Newfoundland birds. October 2006
Aves de Terranova, Canadá, octubre 2006
Ocells de Terranova, Canadà, octubre 2006




Photo above: Lesser Yellowlegs (left), Hudsonian Godwit (center) and Greater Yellowlegs (right). Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006

Photo above: Lesser Yellowlegs (left) and Greater Yellowlegs (right). Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006

Photo above: Greater Yellowlegs T.melanoleuca. Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006

Photo above: Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes. Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006

Photo above: Lesser Yellowlegs (left), Hudsonian Godwit (rignt). Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006

Photo above: Lesser Yellowlegs (left), Hudsonian Godwit (right). Bruce Mactavish. Newfoundland. 4.10.2006



Spanish Galicia 2006 bird
Ave vista en Galicia en 2006
Ocell vist a Galicia el 2006

Photo above:  Lesser Yellowlegs T.flavipes. As Forcadas, Galicia, Spain .30.9.2006

Photo above:  Lesser Yellowlegs T.flavipes. As Forcadas, Galicia, Spain .30.9.2006



Other previous Spanish birds (October - March)
Otras citas previas en España (Octubre - Marzo)
Altres citacions prèvies a Espanya (Octubre a Març)

Photo above: Juv. moulting to 1w. Lesser Yellowlegs T.flavipes. Marisma de Ramallosa, Nigrán/Baiona, Pontevedra, Spain .11.10.2005 (Adolfo Lomeña)

Photo above: 1w Lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes. Matà rice-fields. Aiguamolls de l'Empordà Nat. Park, Girona. 8.12.2000 (© Ricard Gutiérrez).See a whole webpage dealing with this bird here

Photo above:  Lesser Yellowlegs T.flavipes. Clot de la Uniclla, Lleida, Spain .28.3.2004 (Ferran López)


Acknowledgements

Thanks to Bruce Mactavish for commenting the Galicia bird photos plus sending an array of pictures specially taken for this webpage showing both species in the very same moment, but from the opposite side of the Atlantic.


Citation

Mactavish, B. 2006. Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs: an autumn gallery. Rare Birds in Spain. 
Retrieved from http://www.rarebirdspain.net/arbsf049.htm 








Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs: an autumn gallery

Summary:
Introduction
Photographs

Acknowledgements
Citation



 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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