But when seen up close, such as by kayak, they can be very approachable! Here are a few from a photoshoot of a juvenile Least Sandpiper last weekend in the Point Pelee marsh.
Jeremy Bensette and I had let the wind push our kayaks up to the mudflat that the little guy was hunkered down on. It didn't seem at all worried with our presence and picked away at the mud, occasionally giving us a wary glance.
Every now and then it peered up an some unseen (by us) danger in the sky...
This peep, a juvenile, had some characteristics of Western Sandpiper, including a relatively pale face, broad bill base, some rufous in the scapulars, and black "anchors" in the lower scapulars. But it has the correct bill length for Semipalmated Sandpiper and structurally it appeared more like a Semipalmated. Without any shorebird resources with me at the time I'll leave it as a peep sp.! Any thoughts?
Ontario has 5 regular species that are referred to as peeps: the common Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, the rare but somewhat regular Western Sandpiper, and the two larger peeps: White-rumped and Baird's. Compared to the smaller three species, these two have a very long primary projection, giving them a longer, more attenuated profile. The photo below is of a group of White-rumped Sandpipers.
White-rumped and Baird's Sandpipers have the longer tapered appearance to the back end because they have really long wings. Here is a photo of some in flight, along with some Semipalmated Sandpipers and the larger Pectoral Sandpipers. Look at the 3 birds at the bottom-middle of the frame. The lower two are peeps with a longer-winged White-rumped just above them in the frame.
I have yet to obtain good photos of a Baird's Sandpiper, so the below photo will have to do (from James Bay last summer). We see predominately juveniles in Ontario during fall migration, and only occasionally is a Baird's seen somewhere in the province in the spring.
This Baird's below has the long, attenuated profile, because of the long wings, a "buffier" upper breast/throat/head, a plainer face, and a scaly looking back caused by the silver and black patterning of the scapulars (back feathers).
The next species isn't a peep - rather it is a plover. But Semipalmated Plovers are so darn cute that I had to throw in a few photos of them from last weekend!