EXPLANATION: 1c = "first calendar-year", 2c = "second calendar-year", 2c+ = "at least second calendar-year" (after the complete autumn moult). Ring numbers have been used for reference, but two digits have been replaced by XX in order to discourage fake sightings. The Swedish pictures were taken with a Canon A80 on "auto" setting, with flashlight if necessary, while the bird was held in the left hand. (Hold a nocturnal catch up against the night sky, try to achieve a distance of at least 1/2 m in order to get as little reflection as possible, focus on some point below the mid-line. If the ground is used for support, the camera may focus on it and the picture will be useless. I warn anyone who wants to adapt my method: three out of four pictures will be useless, so take pictures with redundancy and make small variations between each exposure. E.g. i often try one picture with 50 ASA and flashlight, then switch to 100 ASA, etc.) In the field, it may also be better to focus by the light from a headtorch, and still use the flashlight for exposure afterwards. From picture 15 onwards the camera used is a Canon S5 IS, set on "manual", and often with the super makro setting. Afterwards pictures are treated with Adobe Photoshop or Gimp 2 (for possibilities see e.g.: Tips and Tricks in Digiscoping ); in my case i mainly reduce the pixel content to the level that normal computers/screens display.

The pictures were taken on the Falsterbo Peninsula (FP), Sweden (c55°24' N, c12°55' E) if some other site is not specifically mentioned. Coordinates of Longyearbyen, Svalbard are 78°13' N, 15°33' E.

picture 1 , Curlew Sandpiper, Denmark, July; sexes , picture 2 , Curlew Sandpiper, FP, 3.8.07; 2c+ female , picture 3 , Broad-billed Sandpiper, FP, 18.5.07 , picture 4 , Little Stint ad, FP, 22.7.08 , picture 5 , Redshank, breeding bird, Foteviken, 22.4.07; 3c+ male , picture 6 , Redshank, FP, 18.7.07; 2c , picture 7 , Redshank, FP, 24.7.07; barely fledged 1c , picture 8 , Common Sandpiper, FP, 10.7.07; 2c+ , picture 9 , Common Sandpiper, FP, 10.7.07; 1c , picture 10 , Ringed Plover, breeding bird, Foteviken, 22.4.07; 2c+ female , picture 11 , Ringed Plover, breeding 2c+ male, FP, 8.8.07 , picture 12 , Little Ringed Plover, migrant 2c+ male, FP, 31.7.08 , picture 13 , Little Ringed Plover, migrant 2c+ male, FP, 31.7.08 , picture 14 , Little Ringed Plover, FP, 5.8.07; 1c , picture 15 , Little Stint, FP, 23.9.07; 1c , picture 16 , Little Stint, FP, 23.9.07; 1c , picture 17 , Red-necked Stint, Chongming Island, 24.9.07; 1c , picture 18 , Wood Sandpiper, 2c?, FP, 12.7.08 , picture 19 , Wood Sandpiper, 1c, FP, 27.7.08 , picture 20 , Red Knot, 1c, FP, 17.8.08 , picture 21 , Sanderling, 2c+, FP, 17.8.08 , picture 22 , Sanderling, 2c+, FP, 17.8.08 , picture 23 , moulting Grey Plover, 2c+, FP, 30.8.08 , picture 24 , moulting Grey Plover, 2c+, FP, 11.9.08 , picture 25 , 2c Common Sandpiper, FP, 29.7.09 ,

curlew sandpiper sexes

PICTURE 1: Curlew Sandpipers, male and female, Denmark, July, from the skin collection of Zoologisk Museum, Copenhagen. The richer coloured male to the left. [CP]

curlew sandpiper female

PICTURE 2: Stockholm 352XX53, migrant 2c+ female, Falsterbo peninsula, 3.8.07. Females have less red and are more barred on lower belly and under tail coverts than males. [CP]

broad-billed sandpiper

PICTURE 3: Stockholm 2KK3XX83, Broad-billed Sandpiper, migrant 2c+, Falsterbo peninsula, 18.5.07. With measurements wing 108 mm, bill 33,6 mm this bird could have been a female. (The opinion of some expert on falcinellus plumage would be welcome!) It has a surprisingly varied and rich facial colouration. [CP]

little stint ad

PICTURE 4: Stockholm 2KK3XX20, Little Stint, migrant 2c+, Falsterbo peninsula, 22.7.08. The facial pattern of the breeding Little Stint doesn't match that of the Broad-billed, but it shares the rusty ear-coverts with that species. [CP]

3c+ redshank

PICTURE 5: Stockholm 512XX73, breeding male Redshank from Foteviken area, 22.4.07. All three tertials are of adult type, with broad dark bands reaching rhachis on both inner and outer vane. [CP]

dunlin female

PICTURE 6: Stockholm 512XX75, Redshank, 2c, Falsterbo peninsula 18.7.07. The second and third tertials may have been moulted, they are simple grey-brown and threadbare (of a possible adult type, but i believe they are juvenile, abraded). The first tertial is juvenile of origin; no black bars and worn whitish "half-moons" at the edge of the feather. (red line) New medians and scapular coverts have typical adult pattern with a blackish subterminal "nail" and buffish or whitish terminal edges. [CP]

juvenile redshank

PICTURE 7: Stockholm 512XX79, Redshank, 1c, Falsterbo peninsula 24.7.07. This Redshank still had a short tail and a rounded wing, but it already could fly. The rich buff-spotted pattern of a juvenile is optimal here, note the white edge of the barely full-grown tertial (red line), it will be almost completely worn away with time. [CP]

common sandpiper, adult

PICTURE 8: Stockholm 352XX03, Common Sandpiper, 2c+, Falsterbo peninsula, 10.7.07. The adult bird has black-barred and edge-worn coverts, tertials, scapulars in summer. [CP]

common sandpiper, juvenile

PICTURE 9: Stockholm 352XX90, Common Sandpiper, 1c, Falsterbo peninsula, 8.8.07. The juvenile bird is very characteristic: all coverts with black subterminal band(-s) and buff terminal band. The plumage is unworn and surprisingly soft. Note the bronzy gloss - it can be seen even in "nature" under certain light conditions. [CP]

ringed plover female

PICTURE 10: Stockholm 352XX48, breeding female Ringed Plover from Foteviken area, 22.4.07. The breast-band of the male is black, with little brownish suffusion, the female has a varying amount of brown feathers. The same criterion seems to work on adult Charadrius hiaticula tundrae in August and September as well, the breast-band of these birds (and all other feather-tracts as well) being untouched by moult during the autumn migration. But a tundrae female never seems to be as brown as this south Scandinavian bird (possibly a first-time breeder), in most cases the breast-band has just a few brown feathers. [CP]

ringed plover male

PICTURE 11: Stockholm 352XX96, breeding male Ringed Plover from Falsterbo peninsula, 8.8.07. Territories including small lagoons one or a few metres from the shoreline proper may be very rich in Diptera larvae in August, and Ringed Plovers often breed there if the disturbance is moderate. In one year a brood fledged on the Spits of Skanör in the last decade of August. The male portrayed here was guarding fledged young, the female had been absent for the last few days. Ringed Plovers have bred at this particular site in August for the last five - six years; of course i should have ringed the male long ago, but i was afraid that i might lose its company. There were no signs of moult whatsoever, he seemed prepared to kick out the young, attract a female and start multiplying himself anew. Dawn picture, light from the rising sun shaded by the photographer's body. [CP]

little ringed plover male

PICTURE 12: Stockholm 2KK3XX21, migrant Little Ringed Plover, 2c+ male, Falsterbo peninsula, 31.7.08. Note different facial pattern when compared with Ringed Plover: eye-ring, less pronounced mask and white to base of bill. The bill is all dark, the legs in this case flesh-coloured. The male Little Ringed has more black in facial markings and breast-band than the female, too. Dawn light, shaded by photographer's body. [CP]

little ringed plover male

PICTURE 13: Stockholm 2KK3XX21, migrant Little Ringed Plover, 2c+ male, Falsterbo peninsula, 31.7.08. The wing of the adult Lesser Ringed Plover is very plain; grey-brown, a row of white edges (with faint dark subterminal line) on coverts is barely seen in flight. Cf the juvenile below. Picture taken in early dawn light, not shaded. [CP]

little ringed plover juvenile

PICTURE 14: Stockholm 2KK3XX95, Little Ringed Plover, 1c, Falsterbo peninsula, 5.8.07. The juvenile Little Ringed has buffish "fish-scale" edges to coverts, much like young Knots, adult birds are plain brown and worn. (Juvenile Ringed Plovers have no black subterminal band, and their buff terminal edges begin to abrade already in August). Note the narrow wing-band, created by white tips of greater coverts. In the Ringed Plover white spots on outer vane of primaries extend this band into the outer region of the wing. Flashlight picture. [CP]

little stint juvenile

PICTURE 15: Little Stint, juvenile, Falsterbo peninsula, 23.9.07. The central tail-feather of the Little Stint may be as broad and as rounded as that of the Red-necked Stint, but it has a broader buff edge. In general, i doubt that identification of juveniles from tail-feathers is very reliable; the criteria in "Guide to the identification and ageing of Holarctic Waders" may be biased by museum specimens, the feathers of which are often compressed by storage and handling. Daylight picture. [CP]

little stint juvenile

PICTURE 16: Stockholm 2KK3XX11, Little Stint, juvenile, Falsterbo peninsula, 23.9.07. Much the same as the bird above; flashlight picture against grey paper, some reflection, the picture filtered. Note that the outermost rectrix (R6) is a little longer than R4 - R5, the same holds true of the Red-necked Stint. [CP]

little stint juvenile

PICTURE 17: Red-necked Stint, juvenile, Chongming Island, China, 24.9.07. The central tail-feather of the Red-necked Stint is said to have narrower edges than that of the Little Stint - but some wear seems to be involved in the present case. In this particular bird the form of the feather doesn't differ at all from Little Stint, although some Little Stints have narrower tail-feathers (gender difference?). Photo: Jimmy Choi. [CP]

adult wood sandpiper in July

PICTURE 18: Wood Sandpiper, 2c+, Falsterbo Peninsula, 12.7.08. In Tringa sandpipers all buff and white patterns tend to wear off more or less completely in breeding adults, tertials and scapulars showing a jagged, "staircase" edge structure in July. [CP]

juvenile wood sandpiper in July

PICTURE 19: Wood Sandpiper, 1c, Falsterbo Peninsula, 27.7.08. And here is the juvenile, the whole staircase structure is predetermined by the arrangement of its spots, and the adult above is most likely a 2c bird. Stresemann (1966) , probably based on Hoffmann (1957) , states that all Wood Sandpiper moult S12 - S15 (the "tertials") twice in a year, it seems to me that some "adult" (2c) tertial sections are too worn to be recently moulted. [CP]

juvenile knot in August

PICTURE 20: The fish-scale structure of the juvenile Red Knot, Falsterbo Peninsula 16.8.08. Focus on the ground; the automatic cameras are self-willed instruments. Digitally sharpened. [CP]

sanderling ad in August

PICTURE 21: The Sanderling doesn't moult flight-feathers on migration in N Europe, but the winter moult is begun in all other feather-tracts, probably already on breeding-grounds. This bird has grown the first whitish winter down, but retains orange-coloured feathers from the breeding plumage. 2c+, Falsterbo Peninsula 16.8.08. [CP]

sanderling ad in August

PICTURE 22: By mid-August 2008, with a particularly tight schedule this year, many moulting Dunlin have gaps of two - three major and up to ten minor flight-feathers - which makes them vulnerable to predators. In contrast, a migrating adult Sanderling has intact and rather unworn flight-feathers. Inner wing-coverts and feathers of the scapular region are moulted on or before migration, however. 2c+, Falsterbo Peninsula 16.8.08. [CP]

adult grey plover in August

PICTURE 23: The Grey Plover has an intriguing moult system; in NW Europe it is often noted in autumn with arrested or suspended moult after P6. The resumption seems to be a little arbitrary; some birds then complete in spring, while others retain unmoulted outer primaries and seemingly replace these in the next moult cycle, in that case moulting from two foci simultaneously. Adult migrant, Falsterbo Peninsula 30.8.08, the six fresh primaries marked with red figures; P7 - 10 are very worn, 9 - 10 with broken tips, shafts protruding. Focus on the background, picture sharpened digitally. [CP]

adult grey plover in September

PICTURE 24: The literature is probably full of incorrect "readings" of Grey Plover moult, however, the field-worker should be very careful or even: meticulous. (Of course one can only guess about a certain category of statements in the literature). I took this bird in the middle of the night in dense fog, the plumage was a little moist, and all feathers seemed to belong to the same generation: fresh - or old. The breeding plumage was practically intact and not worn at all, and the bird was in very good condition, heavy and large. In sweeping light from the camera i could see how P1 - 3 gave a slightly greyer hue on pictures, however, and that is my best call: P1 - 3 fresh, arrested or suspended after that. (When were they grown: in spring or in summer?) There are more disruptions (maybe caused by handling) in the vanes of P4 and P5, that might be the only visible effect of one year's wear and tear in these feathers. Or is the greyer hue simply an artefact, caused by P1 - 3 getting the central flashlight at a certain angle (cf. hues in Fig. 3 of "Adult buff" document)? In the end my own reading may be incorrect, and daylight exposures are to be preferred in cases like this. Falsterbo Peninsula 11.9.08. [CP]

common sandpiper coverts

PICTURE 25: A stroke of luck: Stockholm 352XX07, Common Sandpiper, ringed as 1c Skanör 11.8.08, controlled ibidem 29.7.09. There were a lot of greyish, white-edged coverts beneath the scapulars; they seemed to belong to some feather generation prior to the glossy breeding plumage. Higher up, not visible in this picture, were even more of the same kind, with a distinct juvenile or winter character, and all practically unworn. [CP]

First published 6.8.07, last addition 29.7.09.