|Field test: Semipalmated and Ringed Plovers are famously hard to identify. Have a go at these two for starters ...|
|Juvenile Semipalmated Plover, Corvo, Azores, 13 October 2007.|
|Juvenile Semipalmated Plover, São Miguel, Azores, 10 October 2007.|
With that in mind, the challenge for birders in Britain, Ireland and continental Europe is to look harder for this species and find those missing Semi-ps. Having twitched that Devon bird back in 1997 and since seen and found a few on the Azores, I feel like I'm at last getting a better feel for the species. For starters, when heard (and learnt!), the upwards-inflected chu-wee call is quite distinct from (and higher in pitch than) Ringed Plover - and diagnostic.
Jizz-wise, the slightly smaller size and proportions of Semipalmated give it a touch of Little Ringed Plover, while the famous 'white wedge' gape feature of juveniles, first noted by Killian Mullarney, the thin yellow orbital ring and the toe webbing (when visible) are also useful. Other subtle characters such as relative differences in bill size, breast band and supercilium can also help, but I still find some birds more obvious than others (and feel free to disagree with any of the IDs here - all self-found birds photographed/filmed in the Azores). The video clip below, shot in May this year on Terceira, perhaps gives a better feel of the species' jizz than still images can: