After searching through all of the plovers in several different reference books — and after getting more and more frustrated at not finding an acceptable identification — I finally picked up my brand new Crossley ID Guide. I have been enjoying the beautiful photographic compositions included in Mr. Crossley's guide book, but this was the first real chance I'd had to go to it for help with an ID problem.
Sure enough, as I scanned through the shorebirds — first the plovers again, then moving on to the sandpipers — I found the telltale signs in his flight photographs. Those distinctive patterns on the back and wings that only show up when the bird is in flight (and which were not shown in any of the illustrated references through which I had previously searched) helped me get a firm identification:
Ruddy Turnstones (Arenaria interpres)
It's definitely not a field guide you'd want to take on a bird hike with you, but I think I'm really going to like this new work!