Ian’s Bird of the Week – Temminck’s Stint ~by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter – 12/31/15
Surprise, surprise, Facebook can be useful! I was contemplating a suitable species to wish you a Happy New Year, when I discovered from a post by Rohan Clark that Temminck’s Stint is the newest addition to the Australian bird list, one having turned up in Broome, Western Australia about a month. And no, I didn’t rush off there to photograph it: here are a couple of old photos that I took in India twelve years ago. So that satisfies the Old Year/New Year metaphor. You’ll have noticed by now that I’ll use any excuse as a metaphor to nominate a species as Bird of the Week.
This is probably one for the serious birder as small waders in winter plumage not only pose serious problems of identification but also fail to excite people who are into more dramatic plumages. That said, it’s distinguishing features are the down-curved bill, short legs and, in flight, the white sides to the tail. The latter is probably the best field mark, as it’s shared with no other members of the genus and easy to see in flight, even if it doesn’t show when the birds are on the ground. There are four species of Stints (see Typical Waders
on Birdway) the Eurasian name for very small waders; comparable species of the same genus in North America are usually named Sandpipers, e.g. the Least Sandpiper
and are collectively, colloquially and somewhat disparagingly called Peeps after their calls.
Temminck’s Stint nest right across northern Eurasia from Norway to eastern Siberia. The short Arctic breeding season is something of a frenzy, as Temminck’s Stints of both sexes are territorial and serially bigamous and sometimes fit in three clutches with different mates. They winter mainly in equatorial Africa and southern and southeastern Asia, with Borneo being the closest regular winter haunt to Australia. It is to be expected that they would sometimes overshoot their destination and there have been several reports of them in Australia in recent years but none has been accepted until now.
was a Dutch ‘aristocrat and zoologist’ born in Amsterdam in 1778. He was director of the National Museum (then the Rijksmuseum) of Natural History in Leiden from 1830 until his death in 1851. He made a huge contribution towards the classification of birds and other vertebrates at a time when the species and type concepts were contentious. He inherited a large collection of bird skins from his father who was treasurer of the Dutch East India Company, so it would be easy to imagine that his specimen of the stint came from Indonesia.
Sixteen bird species still include his name as part of the scientific and/or common name, including the Australian Logrunner
), which as featured as bird of the week before. He also make a fundamental contribution to biogeography, though his views on the divine aspects of species design and their unchanging nature proved unpopular with other scientists after about 1840.
You nearly got the Eurasian/Winter/Pacific Wrens as bird of the week as today I’ve got as far as the wren family page in the website redesign. I’m switching from BirdLife International to the IOC for classification and the IOC splits the old Winter Wren of the almost the entire Northern Hemisphere into Old World (Eurasian Wren
) and New World (Winter and Pacific Wrens
, which also suited the Old Year/New Year transition nicely. However, the Eurasian Wren has featured as bird of the week before in the guise of Winter Wren so you ended up with an obscure wader instead.
I send you very best wishes for the New Year and a rewarding 2016 and don’t make your New Year Resolutions too ambitious!
“If a bird’s nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; (Deuteronomy 22:6 NKJV)
Well, Happy New Years to you also, Ian. We look forward to your newsletters again this new year. Thanks for letting our blog share your very informative articles along with super photos of species. Many of those species we have never heard of, let alone have the opportunity to see. Thanks for sharing.
Ian’s Bird of the Week articles
Ian’s Scolopacidae Family
Scolopacidae – Sandpipers, Snipes – Stint Family