Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 8-1995

Common name:

Pacific Golden-Plover

Scientific name: Pluvialis fulva
Date: 18 Sep 1995
Time: ~1:00 pm
Length of time observed: About two minutes, on-off, including ~30 seconds through a Kowa Scope at about 150 - 200 feet (saw it longer than that at a greater distance).  The rest of the time I used a pair of 10x Leica binoculoars
Number: 1
Location: Alkaline mudflat ponds south of Willard Bay, east of Harold S. Crane refuge.
Elevation: ~4215'
Distance to bird: 150 - 200'
Optical equipment: 10x Leicas, Kowa scope with 30x eyepiece
Weather: Clear, sunny
Light Conditions: Clear, bright sun.  Sun was behind bird, about 30-50 to the left.  My view was SW with scope, and mostly south with binoculars.
Detailed description of bird:  - Size and general shape of Black-bellied plover, but seemed sleeker, taller (more upright posture) (It may be this posture was due to alarm posture, but alarmed Black-bellied plovers I have seen on 3 continents never looked quite like that).  Killdeer next to it was dwarfed.
 - Orangey-buff tone to face, breast, and back -- most notably on cheek area and eyestripe.  Blackish patch on cheek.
 - Bill approximately as long as head, thick like plover, dark.
 - No dark patch visible under wings in flight (though my view was not ideal due to angle of sun).  Underwings buffy???  Shape of wings appeared very long and slender pointed.
 - Back speckled. Breast less so.
 - Almost reminded me of Buff-breasted sandpiper in neck/head shape & large, dark eye on buffy face. 
Song or call & method of delivery: none heard
Behavior:  - Bird flew off farther and farther twice, each time apparently silently and for more than 200 feet. 
 - When flew to a new spot, it momentarily held up its wings upon landing, in manner of willet.
Habitat:  - Pickle salt weed and muddy edge of shallow pool in briny area.
Similar species and
how were they eliminated:
 - Warm, buffy tone on body and, especially, head eliminated other pluvialis plovers.  The eyestripe and cheek area were specially rufousy.
 - The cheek spot was very discrete in manner shown in Shorebirds: An Identification Guide, plate 32.
Previous experience with this & similar species: I have never seen this particular species before.  I have seen Black-bellied/Grey plovers on three continents on many occasions.  Mark Stackhouse & I saw an American golden plover two weeks later up close (~50 - 75 feet) and that bird had different posture and (startlingly different) coloration.
References consulted:  - Peterson's A field Guide to Western Birds, erd ed. -- in the field
 - National Geographic Society's Field Guide to the Birds of North America, 2nd ed. -- in the field.
 - Peter Hayman, et al Shorebirds: An Identification Guide -- at home, confirmation of decision made in the field.
Description from: Notes Taken at time of sighting 
Observer:  David Salas Wheeler
Observer's address: 2196 So. 1000 Ea., Salt Lake City, UT  84106  Phone: (801) 484-7319
Observer's e-mail address:  
Other observers who independently identified
this bird:
Mark Stackhouse, Laura Lackhart
Date prepared:  
Additional material: Photo | Drawing | Tape | Other
Other: Significance of record in this area or the state: There are no other confirmed sightings of this recently-split species in Utah to date.  Most members of species migrate winter along California coast or far out at sea.

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