Its name says it all really – the Lesser yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) is a slender wader, with long yellow legs, and the smudgy, less defined markings on the breast of this particular bird point to it being a juvenile.
The Lesser yellowlegs is native to the Americas, spending its summers breeding in the northern forests that lie between Alaska and Quebec and its winters on the United States’ Gulf coast and in parts of South America.
The birds we see here in Britain are vagrants, birds that have strayed or been blown off course during their migration. On average, about ten birds are seen in various parts of Britain each year and, amazingly, there was also a Lesser yellowlegs at RSPB Lodmoor when we visited during last year’s Portland trip
Two interesting facts about this bird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website:
Both the male and female Lesser Yellowlegs provide parental care to the young, but the female tends to leave the breeding area before the chicks can fly, thus leaving the male to defend the young until fledging.
The oldest recorded Lesser Yellowlegs was at least 4 years, 11 months old when it was found in South Dakota in 1965. It had been banded in the Lesser Antilles in 1960.
Back here in Dorset, it was great to get such close views of the Lodmoor Lesser yellowlegs and particularly to see it in close company firstly with two Greenshanks and a Black-tailed godwit (photo above), and then with the same two Greenshanks and a Dunlin (below). This really helped to see the relative differences in size, shape and plumage.
Heck, I even managed to get a short video of the lovely little thing. Enjoy!