Semipalmated Sandpiper

Calidris pusilla


Curtis Marantz
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eBird Checklist S30064016
Piute Ponds (permit required)
Los Angeles, California, United States
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Latitude and Longitude 34.7901, -118.1182 Map



This Semipalmated Sandpiper in likely first-alternate plumage was photographed by Curtis A. Marantz on on 3 June 2016 at Piute Ponds, Edwards Air Force Base, Los Angeles County, California. This bird had been reported earlier in the day by Jon Feenstra, Adam Searcy, Steve Morris, and Darren Dowell.

Observation details

Given that I spent most of my time concentrating on the terns, and that the sandpipers ended up flying off before we left the site, I did not study this bird quite as carefully as I would have had it been the only bird that I was concentrating on this afternoon. I nevertheless did look at this bird at least briefly and I took several photos of it from relatively close range. Although these birds were seen to take flight and to circle around several times before landing briefly again, I never did hear any of the birds in this flock vocalize. I saw this bird standing on the mudflats near the end of a point along the southern shore of Duckbill Lake, which was generally where it had apparently been found earlier in the day. This was a small sandpiper that appeared to be at least roughly comparable in its size and shape to the three Western Sandpipers with which it was associated. I nevertheless noted that this bird had a conspicuously short, Stout bill that appeared to taper little from the base to a blunt tip. I further thought the bill was approximately as long as the head was wide and that the culmen was straight and essentially to the tip. I thought this bird had a steep forehead and a rounded crown, but I did not study the shape or size of its head in detail. I also thought the neck was relatively short and inconspicuous, and that the body was plump and seemingly full-chested. I did not think this bird had conspicuously long wings, yet I did not specifically notice the length of the wings relative to the tail, or the primary projection, and in fact, I did not even really notice the length of this bird's tail. This also had relatively short legs that seemed to be relatively slim, but I did not attempt to quantify their length and I did not really see the feet at all well. Despite the relatively short period of time that I studied this bird, I was able to notice that it had a brownish overall coloration to the head and upperparts, and underparts that were mostly white, including the throat, belly, flanks, and undertail coverts. Unlike a Least Sandpiper, this bird had a band of short streaks across the breast, but not really a distinctly "hooded" appearance. I also noted that the head was mostly brownish, but I also thought this bird had at least a supercilium that was relatively obvious, albeit possibly diffuse. Unlike the Western sandpipers, which showed obvious rufous tones to the upperparts, I thought this bird was relatively evenly brown, but with dark centers to the feathers that gave it a relatively evenly mottled appearance. I must admit that I did not study this bird's plumage in more much more detail than this before the birds took off. I did think the bill was entirely black, that the eyes were dark, and I have at least a vague recollection that the legs were also blackish.

Technical Information

Canon EOS 7D Mark II
Lens model
EF400mm f/5.6L USM
Focal length
400 mm
Shutter speed
1/1600 sec
Flash did not fire, auto
Original file size
1522 x 972

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