As if identifying shorebirds were not challenging enough, throw in an aberration or two, and it is downright confounding. I spent a lot of time staring at this bird on the St. Shott's Beach.
The bird seemed to have all the markings of a Least Sandpiper, but I could see no yellow legs. I kept taking photos and checking them over and over. Sometimes light plays big tricks on beaches.
No matter what, I could not turn these black legs yellow. Yes, this is a Least Sandpiper with black legs! Images were taken in August.
This image of a Least with the proper yellow legs was photographed at Bear Cove Beach. These shots were taken in September. Time really does make a difference as the shorebirds are making a continuous transition into winter plumage.
Also at this beach were several Semipalmated Sandpipers. Their legs looked yellowish. This is not that uncommon, and in this case, I think the color was affected by the color of the surroundings.
As confused as I often am when looking at shorebirds, I have made progress. I do spend time looking at the color of the legs, the shape of the feet, the length and shape of the beak, length of tail and wings, underarm color, rump color and overall size and shape. Despite all this as well as studying the coloring of the bird, I am often left shaking my head. Is it any wonder when I come across a Least Sandpiper with black legs?