Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ring-necked Parakeet

Hand feeding – literally!

by Martin

This is my hand and a bird with monster chomping mandibles trying to see if it’s edible. It isn’t. I’m in Hyde Park on Feb 4th prior to an evening gig with the London Bird Club. The photo below is by Ralph Hancock who has been watching birds in Hyde Park for 60 Years! He guided me around some of the park and introduced me to some of the Park’s delights.

Biting the hand 1aFollowing little tuition from Ralph I was able to lure one of the park’s female Ring-necked Parakeets onto my hand. Having devoured a peanut it then tried to eat my hand.

If you watch the clip through you can see and hear the pain…

ring necked parakeet 1Male Ring-necked Parakeet, Hyde Park, London, 4th Feb 2013. Back in t’day the only place you could guarantee seeing ‘wild’ Ring-necked Parakeets in Britain was Foots Cray Meadows in Bexley, SW London. Since my first in the early 1980’s they have spread and are now a very prominent feature in Hyde Park. Black throat and rose ring around the hind neck separate males form all green headed females.

waiting

rosy come downRalph Hancock models how to feed the wild birds…

robin on richard Hyde park feb 13Robin on Ralph’s Hand. I don’t think I have even seen so many genuinely wild passerines coming to one person hand to feed. Pretty cool. Watch the video below. Great, Blue, Coal Tits, Chaffinch and Robin were all willing to come to take seed from the hand. Have you seen anywhere with a greater variety of wild birds being hand fed?

Above. Check out the wild birds coming to Ralph’s hand. Read more of Ralph’s birding tales from Royal Parks 

Is this a Whistling Swan?

By Terry

China doesn’t yet have a rarities committee.  That will come as birding becomes more popular.  And so, for the time being, there is no formal way to assess reports of unusual birds.  I am therefore inviting readers of Birding Frontiers to informally assess a record of a putative WHISTLING SWAN (Cygnus columbianus columbianus) in central Beijing this winter.

This is the story.

For context, any wild swan in central Beijing (inside the 6th ring road) is notable.  So when local birder Shi Jin discovered a swan on 25 November on his local patch – the Wenyu He, between the 5th and 6th ring roads – he was very happy.  He was even happier when he noted that the bill showed a very small amount of yellow as it led him to believe that it just might be a Whistling Swan.   The significance of this sighting is that, if confirmed as a Whistling Swan, it would be the first time this North American form of Tundra Swan has been seen anywhere in China.

Although originally alone, the bird was soon joined by a standard Bewick’s Swan (the Eurasian race of Tundra Swan commonly encountered in China) and the two birds remained in the area for several days.  Shi Jin reported his sighting to Beijing birders on the day of discovery and circulated a photo, pointing out that it appeared to be of the North American race and asking for views.

The putative Whistling Swan in Beijing (with Bewick's Swan).  Photo by Shi Jin.

The putative Whistling Swan in Beijing (with Bewick’s Swan). Photo by Shi Jin.

On paper, separating the races of Tundra Swan – Whistling (columbianus) and Bewick’s (bewickii) – is relatively straightforward.  The most reliable feature is said to be the amount of yellow on the bill.  In his excellent Advanced Bird ID Handbook, Nils Van Duivendijk says that, in adults, “at most 1/8th of the bill is yellow in columbianus and that a large majority have less than 8% yellow on the bill.”  And that “the yellow is often positioned as a ‘teardrop’ on or just below the lores.”

Peter Pyle, in his Identification Guide to North American Birds, says that the yellow on the bill ranges from 0-16% and includes a helpful diagram showing the maximum extent (p.76 of Part II – Anatidae to Alcidae).

And David Sibley in The North American Bird Guide provides a similar diagram (p.73) of bill patterns, including an example of Whistling Swan “with maximum yellow”.

Of course, this is most relevant if the bird in question is an adult… (more about that in a minute).

As is evident, the extent of yellow on the bill of the Beijing bird is much less than one would expect on a standard Bewick’s.  The left-side of the bill even shows a classic ‘teardrop’ shape.    Initially the right side of the bill was not seen or photographed, although from a head-on view it seemed to exhibit only marginal differences.

In early December Beijing-based birder Jennifer Leung and I went to see the bird and we took a series of photographs (see below), including of the bill pattern and comparing the putative Whistling Swan with the accompanying Bewick’s.   These photos show that the bill is asymmetrical with a little more colour on the bird’s right side.  I use the word “colour” here as opposed to “yellow” as close examination of the images reveals that part of the coloured area on the right side of the bill is more pink-grey in colour and that the extent of yellow is limited and roughly the same on both sides of the bill.

Ageing

Now, back to that guidance about identifying adults.  As always, an important first step when attempting the identification of a potential vagrant is to age the bird.  On the Beijing swan, the general plumage – white body and wing feathers – appears to be adult.  However, there are a couple of aberrations that might suggest immaturity (I very much welcome views on these).  First, the crown has some dark feathering (viewable on several images over several days, suggesting that it is probably not staining).  Second, the area of colour on the right side of the bill is largely pink rather than yellow.  Is the latter evidence of an immature bird maturing and slowly developing its adult bill?  And, if so, is the amount of colour on the bill likely to reduce over time to leave the small patch of yellow, currently broadly similar in size and shape on both sides of the bill?

Once this question has been answered, the next obvious question is – “Does the amount of colour, and specifically the yellow, on the bill enable a secure identification?”

A cautionary note in British Birds (June 2006, BB 99, p307) on this issue stated:

“The two subspecies of Bewick’s Swan, C. c. columbianus and C. c. bewickii, have been proposed as potential splits because they differ in the amount of yellow on the bill (summarised in Sangster et al. 1997). However, it is not clear whether there is any overlap, and although hybridisation occurs there is virtually no information on the relationships between the two taxa in that part of eastern Siberia where they come in contact.”

And to muddy the waters further, it seems that Bewick’s from eastern Siberia (the most likely to turn up in Beijing) may have less yellow on the bill than standard Bewick’s.  Peter Pyle’s Identification Guide to North American Birds states “Populations [of bewickii] of eastern Siberia (“jankowskii”) may have bills averaging larger and with less amount of yellow but differences, if present, are insufficient and variable, and may indicate intergradation with columbianus.”

Aside from the yellow on the bill, other features have been suggested as helpful in separating columbianus from bewickii.

Cleaner white plumage

An article in Birding World (Vol 12, Number 3) reported that a Whistling Swan in Northern Ireland “stood out from its companions by virtue of being snowy white (A. McGeehan, pers. comm.)…”

Now, the Beijing putative Whistler did look, to me, marginally ‘cleaner’ white than the Bewick’s with which it was associating but how far this goes as a supporting feature is unclear.

Size and Structure

On average, Whistling Swans are slightly larger than Bewick’s but there is significant overlap so, for most birds not at the extreme end of the range, size will not be helpful.  Certainly with the Beijing bird, there is no significant size differential between it and the accompanying Bewick’s.

Some people have suggested that Whistling Swan exhibits a different head shape.  Birding World (Vol 12, Number 3) suggested that “While Bewick’s Swan tends to be rather dome-headed (with a smoothly rounded rear crown), Whistling Swan may show a different profile: a sloping crown ending in a high rear peak, and a steeply angled nape.”

To my eyes there is little, if any, difference in head shape between the Beijing birds.

Finally, the Birding World article referenced above asked the question directly:

“Can an out of range Whistling Swan be positively identified in the field?”

John Kemp, the author of the article, answered:

“Given adequate views, it seems likely that one of the 85% of classic Whistling Swans (ie those with less than 6% yellow) would be sufficiently distinct to be certainly identifiable, especially if it also showed good supportive structural features.  Photographs of reasonable quality may enable the percentage of yellow to be assessed.  The problem lies with the very small number of extreme individuals which cannot be convincingly identified, bearing in mind the existence of intergrades/hybrids….  ..Possibly only those individuals showing less than maybe 10% yellow on the bill should be regarded as true identifiable Whistling Swans.” 

For me, the right hand side of the Beijing bird shows more than 10% colour (with a smaller amount as yellow) but it is not straightforward to assess this accurately.  And, if it is more than 10%, does that rule out safe identification as a Whistling Swan?  Or should we only assess the amount of yellow?

Neither Shi Jin, Jennifer nor I have any experience with the North American form and we are far from experts on ageing swans, so we would welcome views from anyone with relevant experience.  But no pressure – it’s only a potential first for China!

Putative Whistling Swan, Beijing, 11 December.

Putative Whistling Swan, Beijing, 11 December.

2012-12-11 Whistling Swan right side

Putative Whistling Swan, Beijing, 11 December. Note the more extensive colour on the right side of the bill.

2012-12-11 Whistling Swan

Putative Whistling Swan (right) with Bewick’s Swan (left), Beijing, 11 December 2012. To my eyes, the putative ‘whistler’ looks slightly ‘cleaner white’ than the Bewick’s – a feature in support of Whistling as an id?

Note the dark markings on the crown - is this a sign of immaturity?

Note the dark markings on the crown – is this a sign of immaturity?  Photo by Shi Jin.

2012-12-11 Whistling Swan close up left side

A close-up of the left-hand side of the bill.

2012-12-11 Whistling Swan close up right side

A close-up of the right-hand side of the bill. Note the difference in extent and shape of the colour on the bill and also that the upper part of the coloured area is more pinky-grey. Is this a sign of immaturity?  Will that pink area turn black with age?

A New Moth Season

Believe it or not, the new 2013  moth season has already started. Yes, back in early January when we had a spell of mild weather, south coast “Moth’ers” were already catching early migrants but for us folks further north, a slightly different story. We shall soon see the first spring moths beginning to emerge. I’m sure the temperatures will soon change for the better and a new season will begin. It is interesting to note that as in birds,  many of our moth species are also very variable in both sub species, forms and colour variants. For the beginner this can  pose just as difficult an ID process as it can with the identification of birds. (Current discussions over Siberian Chiffchaff for example). I have yet to completely understand why there are so many different colour forms in moths, so anyone who can shed any light on this, I would be very interested to receive opinions.

Here are a few species to look out for in early March. Of particular interest are the two different sub species of Yellow Horned.

Yellow-Horned-scoticaDSCN6719 Yellow Horned – Ssp scotica – The Scottish sub-speciesnote the more grey tones and the prominent pale discal spot. A really attractive moth.

Yellow-Horned2Yellow Horned – Ssp galbanus – Very distinctive with orange antennae which give the moth its name – Yellow Horned.

7thMar2007-010 Common Quaker – An early spring species that is very variable in ground colour. This one is very pale and light sandy-grey.

Common-Quaker-017Common Quaker – This one is the more typical warm orange-brown colour

Oak-Beauty-7thMar2007-007Oak Beauty – A stunning spring moth, again variable in ground colour from white to greenish-grey and orange-brown. The feathered antennae indicate that this is a male.

Siberian Chiffchaff …ing

Grey is the new sandy!

By Martin G. and Anthony McGeehan

What do you think? They invite tireless fascination don’t they? With an estimated 65 in the U.K in January 2013 (per Birding Word) often in urban sites including birders gardens (see below), Siberian Chiffchaffs are both available and accessible. Appreciating their remarkable journey while learning the vagaries of their appearance are part of their appeal.

Inishbofin. December 2012 – January 2013

Found by Dermot Breen before Christmas, Anthony McGeehan watched this individual over 3 days on the island off Ireland’s west coast and (below) explores the issues of ‘plumage morphing’.

Siberian-Chiffchaff,-green- AMcG

Siberian-Chiffchaff,-inside AMcG(above) Siberian Chiffchaff, Inishbofin, Ireland. January 2013 by Anthony McGeehan. The same bird in both photographs.

    “Light exerts an influence on vision and plumage tints vary depending upon the light. Tilt a Mallard wing and the speculum switches from deep purple to blue; watch a drake Tufted Duck twist its head from side-to-side and the lustre changes from green to blue. Few get excited about such variation. In other situations the ambient light of surroundings exerts influence. Lapwing breeding plumage comes alive when sunlit but can appear close to monotone in total overcast. Hence angle of light, background ‘lighting context’ and tilt of plumage can, separately or collectively, combine.

   Sometimes the cocktail has an effect on the assessment of field marks. In Ireland, where some Coal Tits are more yellowish-cheeked than others, the strength of the yellowishness is emphasised when the bird faces obliquely away. In a flash – or burst of images from a DSLR – the rear cheek goes from cream to buttery-yellow. Quite what is going on is beyond my ability to explain but factors such as angle of light and the ‘nap’ of plumage are probably key elements in the process.

   On several species, loral patterns vary between dark and pale. Once again, angles are important and are complicated by the fact that loral plumage more-or-less runs in a different direction to that surrounding it and that this part of the head is slightly concave.

   More straightforward to comprehend is the ‘bounce’ of colour derived from surrounding vegetation. A Blyth’s Reed Warbler will look brownish-olive across its upperparts in sunshine but the olive component disappears in dull light. Depending on the angle of the bird’s torso, its folded wings will glint bronze in some positions but not others. Not surprisingly, such subtle cameleon nuances can become important when identification hinges on a whether a specific colour is detected.

   The truth is, plumage contours, light and background vegetation are all at work. For this reason Siberian Chiffchaffs can exude greyness or brownness. Background light is the main determinant in their ‘global’ colour but, at a ‘micro’ scale, a switch in body alignment will, by itself, oomph up the green cast from remiges that, a moment before, looked uniform with overall brownish (or greyish!) wings. There is nothing unusual in the light-registering ability of Siberian Chiffchaff plumage. Grey is the new sandy!”   

Anthony McGeehan

Chiffchaffing in Poole, Dorset. January 2013

Coined by Tormod A. somewhere between Oxford and Kent (via Dorset) during the ‘Pushing the Boundaries Tour, ‘Chiffchaffing’ seemed to suitably described the engrossed observations of a group of tiny but super hardy little leaf warblers. With 15 Common Chiffchaffs having been ringed there this winter already, the drain (like a canal) at the back of PC World in Poole, Dorset holds plenty. Amoung them are 3 ‘others’. Marcus Lawson was our guide having found a veritable Siberian Chiffchaff on his Footit challenge and a second (intriguingly ringed) bird which also might pass muster as a ‘tristis’. We came across a new tristis and saw both of the original birds alongside c 8 Common Chiffchaffs:

Sib Chiff first bird 2013-02-14_062803(above) Siberian Chiffchaff, Poole, Dorset, January 2013 by Martin Garner. This is Bird One, found by Marcus on his Footit challenge.

tristis type ringed bird 2013-02-14_062403

tristis type ringed bird 2013 strip(above 4 photos) Possible Siberian Chiffchaff, Poole, Dorset, January 2013 by Martin Garner. This, Bird Two is the ringed bird. With extra olive above and yellow below its not straightforward though watching it live it certainly gave off a Siberian air’; an individual worthy of further careful study and recording.

Siberian Chiffchaff new bird 2013-02-14_061611(above) Siberian Chiffchaff, Poole, Dorset, January 2013 by Martin Garner. This is Bird Three, found on the Pushing the Boundaries Tour. It exuded Siberian-ness. It was also heard to give the classic ‘peep’ call.

Sibe Chiff BS2

Siberian Chiff Brett Spencer(above) Siberian Chiffchaff, Dorset, 5th February 2013 by Brett Spencer. Surely a delightful garden find for Brett. He captured very effectively the colour morphing from brown to grey.

Me? I can’t get enough of them.

So……what about your experiences of Siberian and other Chiffchaffs?

Taxonomical notes : Lesser Kestrel is really monotypic?

With these “taxonomical notes” I want to launch a series of notes and thoughts about some problem related to the taxonomy of Western Palearctic birds, addressing some conundrums which have not yet been studied in detail or did not get enough attention. Many of these notes are simply reported in order to stimulate further in depth studies by taxonomist and researchers, with some being instead only a brief view of my researches in due course and in progress. Indeed, for what concern this “first case” here reported, my study started back in Autumn 2003 and the whole problem will be presented on a specific paper in preparation.

Taxonomical notes : Lesser Kestrel is really monotypic?

By Andrea Corso

During autumn 2003, I was at Chockpak Ringing Station, Kazakhstan, alongside with three  Dutch birders and friend of mine (Arend Wassink, Justin J Jansen and Wim Nap), studying raptors and the other birds there, with the guiding of Professor Andrei Gavrilov. We visited as well many other sites of Eastern Kazakhstan. The trip was very interesting and fruitful for many aspects and the country was confirmed to be one of my favorite destination. Among the several remarkable observations, I was greatly intrigued by the pattern of the upperwing in most of the adult male Lesser Kestrel ringed and observed in the field. During the firsts observation days in Kazakhstan I was telling my fellow observers some tips about field characters of Lesser Kestrel. While talking about the upperwing grey panel in adult male I emphasized how this character is very often not visible under field condition and usually only at very close view, good light or in perched birds. Looking at the males flying around then, I was readily contradicted, as in all the males around, the grey on the upperwing was not only well visible, even at distance, but also very conspicuous and dark looking. This fact intrigued me very much so I started to check and study in details every male observed in the following days and eventually also all the birds caught to be ringed. It resulted therefore as almost 100% of the males observed shown more grey then I was used to see in European birds; this was confirmed by the many males caught during our stay at the ringing station. For what concern European birds, Corso (2000, 2001) report that to a certain degree, the upperwing grey panel could show a range of variability, among several other characters. However, not any of the European bird personally observed (some 20.000 adult males in total) ever shown an upperwing pattern that may look identical to the birds I observed in Kazakhstan. Rarely, birds within European population (chiefly from the eastern part of the range) may show a more extensive grey wing-panel, with all the GC (greater coverts) sooty-grey and in rare occasion some median coverts (MC) and tertials too (Corso, 2000, Corso, 2001; pers.obs.).  However, I never observed any European bird with almost the whole upperwing coverts dark led-grey all the way to scapulars and tertials as in some Kazakhstan birds.  None of the main references on European raptors either illustrate or describe birds like these (Cramp & Simmons, 1980; Snow & Perrins, 1998; Forsman, 1999; Clark, 1999; Ferguson-Lees & Christie, 2001). None of them even mention that the grey area (panel) appear to be greater in Eastern populations then in the Western populations. Only in Ferguson-Lees & Christie (2001) it is depicted a bird with more grey then usual but not as much as noticed in this study. In Forsman (1999), the only picture showing a male with much grey on upperwing has been taken in fact in Kazakhstan. I was therefore very excited as I thought to have found a yet un-described subspecies of the believed monotypic Lesser Kestrel. However, once back home, I started to search references on the taxonomy of this falcon and found that back in ‘800 a “variety” or race has been already described by Swinhoe.

Introduction

Nowadays, Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni (Fleischer, 1818) is considered monotypic, with no subspecies recognized (Cramp & Simmons, 1980; Snow & Perrins, 1998; Forsman, 1999; Clark, 1999; Ferguson-Lees & Christie, 2001; Corso, 2000, 2001). However, Swinhoe described in 1870 a new race or “variety” (according to his given name) of Lesser Kestrel from Pekin, China which he named Falco cenchris var. pekinensis (Swinhoe, 1870). He described the holotype bird, collected on 18th October 1868, as following : “Large numbers of Kestrels were flying and hovering about. Their movement struck me as peculiar; and on shooting a male we found the species to be a race of Falco cenchris, Naumann. We procured on this occasion an adult male, and in the Western Hills a young male. They agree in size and form with Falco cencrhis of Europe; but the adult male has all the wing-coverts grey right up to the scapulars, most of them narrowly edged with rufous. The adult has the inner or short primaries broadly bordered at their tips with whitish, rufous in the immature, and wanting in the European bird. Both adult and immature have the white on the under quills 3 ¼ inches short of their tips; in the European bird it advances one inch nearer the tips. I will note this Eastern race as var. pekinensis. It will probably be the bird that winters in India.” (Swinhoe, 1870). Later on, Swinhoe (1871) on his “Revised Catalogue of the Birds of China” so reports “Breeds on the western hills of Pekin, and assembles in large numbers in September. Mr. Hodgson’s drawing of the Nepal bird (in the British Museum) shows that it is this race of Tichornis cenchris that resorts to India. The adult male has all the wing-coverts grey right up to the scapulars ; the inner or short primaries are broadly bordered at their tips with whitish, rufous in the immature ; the white on the under quills is 3^inches short of their tips. Subsequently, Jerdon (1871) report this taxon for the Birds of India. It is also mentioned later by Sharpe (1874) in his “Catalogue of the Accipiters, or Diurnal Birds of Prey, in the collection of the British Museum” and so described: “Very similar to C.naumanni, but darker and more vinous red above; underneath also darker-coloured and unspotted when adult. The principal distinction is the wing-coverts, which are almost entirely blue-grey, only the very innermost being slightly washed with rufous. Total length 12 inches, culmen 0-8, wing9-6, tail 5-8, tarsus 1-45. Hab. N: China; Himalayas.” Hodgson (1844, 1845a,b, 1855) mention too the race pekinensis. Hartert (1913) and Hartert & Steinbacher (1933) mention this race as well giving again a description fitting with the original one by Swinhoe and considering valid this taxon (though with some overlapping characters sometimes with the nominate naumanni and reporting some clines). Warren (1966) report :  “Syntype, Adult male. Rea. no. 1886.3.25.272. Near Ming Tombs, north of Peking, 18 Oct. 1868. Collected by R. Swinhoe. Seebohm Collection. Proc. zool. Soc. Lond., 1870 : 442. Also Warren & Harrison (1971, 1973) reported again pekinensis.

More recently, authors has variously faced with the Chinese population from simply ignoring it, to mentioning and describing it as Falco naumanni pekinensis with the given English name of Eastern Lesser Kestrel or synonymizing it with naumanni (lumping together the two taxa): so, for ex. Brown & Amadon (1968) and Brown, et al. (1983) mention among the African raptors also Falco naumanni pekinensis reporting that this race is distributed from Turkestan to northern China, and in Africa it is observed outside the breeding season in Eastern Africa with “Most of the Lesser Kestrels passing through Somaliland appear to belong to this race”. These authors describe pekinensis as so “Adult male differs from the preceding race (naumanni) in having the grey of the wings extending up to the scapulars; secondaries broadly tipped with whitish and a greater amount of blackish on the ends of the primaries. The female and young differ on the latter character only.” Of the same opinion are Etchécopar & Hüe (1967) which report “F.n.pekinensis Swinhoe (Généralment plus gris, sur les moyennes et petites couvertures alaires); Migratrice : Venant d’Asie, accidentelle en Ègypte”. For the Avifauna of China, Etchécopar & Hüe (1978) report again F.n.pekinensis while more recently, Tso-Hsin (1987, 1994) in his synopsis, synonymize pekinensis with naumanni which is reported to be monotypic.  Vaurie (1965) mention Falco cenchris var. pekinensis only as a synonym of Falco naumanni, monotypic. Lesser Kestrel in Asia (Pakistan, South Asia, India, China) is considered monotypic also by Ali & Ripley (1978), Ripley (1982), Inskipp, et al. (1996), Grimmett, et al. (1998) while in the recent Rasmussen & Anderton (2005) no mention at all is given about pekinensis.

Discussion

Was therefore with no clear idea that I went to Tring, the Natural History Museum (NHM) (alongside with my friend and MISC member Ottavio Janni) to check the syntypes of Swinhoe, but eventually what I found were birds clearly different from any Western Lesser Kestrel I knew before. All the specimens labeled as pekinensis preserved into the collections held at Tring and at Almaty Nature Museum of the Zoology Research Institute of the Academy of Science (IZA) show obvious differences to all the other skins of birds collected in the breeding grounds within the Western Palearctic, while some birds collected in the African and even more in the Indian wintering grounds appear indeed similar. I divided the skins into A) birds collected in China during breeding season; B) birds of unknown breeding ground origin, collected elsewhere in Asia; C) birds which are typical naumanni, collected mostly in the breeding grounds of Europe and N Africa; D) birds collected during migration or wintering grounds in Africa, the Middle East and Arabian Peninsula; E) birds collected in India, during migration or winter time.

As shown in the here reported photos, all the birds coming from China (A), most of them labeled originally as pekinensis, show according to the original description of the holotype (called syntype by Warren, 1966 – why?) the whole upperwing coverts grey with also the tertials grey or partially grey. Additionally, the grey tinge is not only reaching the lower scapulars in some birds, but is also of a darker led grey, more sooty (less pure and cold bluish-grey or cerulean-grey), then the birds from Europe (C); on the same way, also the grey on the head and tail is darker and more sooty. The mantle, as correctly reported by Sharpe (1874) is of a deeper and darker vinous rusty-red colour, and the underparts are darker and more satured as well. Birds from other Asian countries (B), such as Kazakhstan, have similarly patterned wing-coverts, though in some birds less extensive and with in most birds part of the lesser and the leading edge rusty tinged (mostly as a rusty “patch” on the inner “harm”), the grey colour of head, tail and coverts being in some not so dark led grey as the Chinese birds (but in some birds being similar) and the underparts appearing less saturated as the mantle less vinous in many birds (but similar in some); indeed, these birds appear intermediate and could be called “cline”. Birds collected in the Middle East, Arabian Peninsula (as in UAE) and Eastern Africa during migration period or winter time have typical plumage (as C) or appear intermediate (as B), but their origin is not known so they could simply be taken into account as “intermediate” birds of unknown origin, while some birds collected in India (E) indeed look like “pekinensis” (as A). On the web and in ornithological books, several birds from India, Arabian Peninsula and Eastern Africa show either an intermediate plumage like birds of the group (B) or a “pekinensis-type” like plumage. The birds from Turkestan, described by Zarudny (1912) as Cerchneis naumanni turkestanicus and reported to have paler plumage than pekinensis with less grey on upperwing but more than on European birds, could be included into the group (B) as intermediate birds of clinal population, while the taxon Cerchneis naumanni sarmaticus (Domaniewski, 1917) is of no taxonomic value at all.

NB: For a comparison study, only birds of the group (A) and (C) could be taken into account, while birds of the group (B) in the middle could only be taken into account as clines or intermediate birds, which are normally found in every subspecies.

From a first and preliminary analysis, it seems that birds of the species’ range show an increasing amount of grey to coverts and saturation in colors moving west to east, with some birds from the Spanish population showing almost no grey on coverts (only a tinges or a tip to the greater coverts), moving east the coverts showing an increasingly wider amount of coverts grey tinged,  almost gradually, as well a more saturated plumage. Therefore, it seems likely that there is a cline in both the extension of the grey on the coverts and the saturation of the pigmentation, with however the Chinese birds being constantly different from all the other Lesser Kestrels and with the differences strongest and most visible. This is only a brief overview of the results obtained and a simple and basic summary, for a better and more in depth treatment see Corso, et al. (in prep.). However, from the preliminary result, not only it seems that the pekinensis taxon is valid, as being readily identifiable and obviously different, but that a genetic study of the Chinese population is surely advisable and should be taken into account (could be that result would indicate something like Red-footed Falcon and Amur Falcon, in the past considered conspecific and often called Western and Eastern RFF ?).

In any case, whatever the validity of pekinensis would be confirmed or not, and accepted or rejected, still the differences in the plumage of the eastern populations should finally be acknowledged and taken into account, as up to date these have never been considered and illustrated in any field guide, handbook or reference dealing with Asian birds in last decades and always Lesser Kestrel has been only depicted with the same wing pattern, therefore with a limited amount of grey on the greater coverts, often hard to be seen in flying birds.

1.Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂. Rea. no. 1886.3.25.272. Near Ming Tombs, north of Peking, 18 Oct. 1868. Collected by R. Swinhoe (A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring). Note the entirely led grey wing-coverts and tertials, well contrasting with the white leading edge feathers, the dark sooty led grey hood and the saturated colours of mantle (vinous red) and of the underparts. No illustration in any modern field guide is available of such a plumage, with no description or illustration reporting these characters.  Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

1. Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂. Rea. no. 1886.3.25.272. Near Ming Tombs, north of Peking, 18 Oct. 1868. Collected by R. Swinhoe (A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring). Note the entirely led grey wing-coverts and tertials, well contrasting with the white leading edge feathers, the dark sooty led grey hood and the saturated colours of mantle (vinous red) and of the underparts. No illustration in any modern field guide is available of such a plumage, with no description or illustration reporting these characters. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

2.Falco naumanni “naumanni” – ad. ♂ from Spain. Note that in many European birds the grey on wing coverts is very limited and pretty hard to be seen in the field or even in the hands. Note that the plumage is paler, less intense and deep in both the grey of hood and wing-coverts and of the mantle and underparts. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

2. Falco naumanni “naumanni” – ad. ♂ from Spain. Note that in many European birds the grey on wing coverts is very limited and pretty hard to be seen in the field or even in the hands. Note that the plumage is paler, less intense and deep in both the grey of hood and wing-coverts and of the mantle and underparts. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

3.Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ .Note the deeply saturated underparts. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

3. Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ .Note the deeply saturated underparts. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

4.Falco naumanni “naumanni” – ad. ♂ from Cyprus, collected in March. Note the very pale underparts typically found in European birds (Western Lesser Kestrel) and compare with the eastern birds. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

4. Falco naumanni “naumanni” – ad. ♂ from Cyprus, collected in March. Note the very pale underparts typically found in European birds (Western Lesser Kestrel) and compare with the eastern birds. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

5.Upperparts of F.n.”pekinensis”  to show the very much saturated upperparts. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

5. Upperparts of F.n.”pekinensis” to show the very much saturated upperparts. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

6.1 “pekinensis” (leftmost bird) compared with 1 ad. ♂ from Afghanistan and 1 ad. ♂ from Spain, all from Spring, to show the decreasing intensity of the saturation of the grey and the mantle, which in European birds is less vinous-rusty and more terracotta with a pinkish hue.  Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

6. 1 “pekinensis” (leftmost bird) compared with 1 ad. ♂ from Afghanistan and 1 ad. ♂ from Spain, all from Spring, to show the decreasing intensity of the saturation of the grey and the mantle, which in European birds is less vinous-rusty and more terracotta with a pinkish hue. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

7.Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – 3 adult ♂♂. Note the same typical characters in all three adult males, visibly different from any Western Lesser Kestrel. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

7. Same birds (above) from below. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

8.Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – 3 adult ♂♂. Note the same typical characters in all three adult males, visibly different from any Western Lesser Kestrel. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

8. Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – 3 adult ♂♂. Note the same typical characters in all three adult males, visibly different from any Western Lesser Kestrel. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

9.Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ compared with an ad. ♂ from Mesopotamia labeled with the trinomial Falco n. naumanni. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

9. Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ compared with an ad. ♂ from Mesopotamia labeled with the trinomial Falco n. naumanni. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ compared with an ad. ♂ from Palestine which is labeled with the trinomial nomenclature Falco naumanni naumanni , collected on 1923. Note the differences in saturation and colour tinge/hue of upperparts. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

10. Falco naumanni “pekinensis” – adult ♂ compared with an ad. ♂ from Palestine which is labeled with the trinomial nomenclature Falco naumanni naumanni , collected on 1923. Note the differences in saturation and colour tinge/hue of upperparts. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

Close view of the head of same birds of fig.11 to show the grey hood paler in naumanni. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

11. Close view of the head of same birds of fig.10 to show the grey hood paler in naumanni. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

Again same birds in lateral view. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

12. Again same birds in lateral view. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

13. An adult ♂ Falco n. naumanni (centre) compared with two ad. ♂♂ “pekinensis” from China, to show how much paler pearl grey is the hood and less saturated, less rusty-vinous but more pinkish tinged is the mantle of the Western taxon or form (all Spring birds). Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

13. An adult ♂ Falco n. naumanni (centre) compared with two ad. ♂♂ “pekinensis” from China, to show how much paler pearl grey is the hood and less saturated, less rusty-vinous but more pinkish tinged is the mantle of the Western taxon or form (all Spring birds). Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

Same birds of fig. 13 in lateral view. Photo: © A.Corso - courtesy of NHM, Tring

Same birds of fig. 13 in lateral view. Photo: © A.Corso – courtesy of NHM, Tring

Advanced 2nd cy ♂ (almost in full 1st adult plumage but for retained juv. S1-S2 and growing P10) ringed at Chockpak Bird Station, Kazakhstan, October.  Intermediate bird with a more saturated colour of the plumage than a typical Western Lesser Kestrel and extensive grey panel on upperwing where however a patch of rusty-vinous terracotta is still visible on inner “harm”.  The origin of this bird (breeding ground) is unknown. Photo: © A.Corso

15. Advanced 2nd cy ♂ (almost in full 1st adult plumage but for retained juv. S1-S2 and growing P10) ringed at Chockpak Bird Station, Kazakhstan, October. Intermediate bird with a more saturated colour of the plumage than a typical Western Lesser Kestrel and extensive grey panel on upperwing where however a patch of rusty-vinous terracotta is still visible on inner “harm”. The origin of this bird (breeding ground) is unknown. Photo: © A.Corso

16.Ad. ♂ (with old P10-P8 and S1-S4) ringed at Chockpak Bird Station, Kazakhstan, October.  A bird very much like Eastern Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni “pekinensis”-type, with a more saturated colour of the plumage than a typical Western Lesser Kestrel and almost wholly sooty led grey upperwing with a slightly visible rusty tinge on innermost “harm” and on scapulars. The breeding ground of this bird is unknown. On a true Chinese “pekinensis” the rusty tinge will be absent or barely visible and in some even the scapulars would be greyish tinged or grey. However, no birds with such a pattern are found in Europe usually and there are no illustration in any modern field guide showing such a plumage.  Photo: © A.Corso

16. Ad. ♂ (with old P10-P8 and S1-S4) ringed at Chockpak Bird Station, Kazakhstan, October. A bird very much like Eastern Lesser Kestrel Falco naumanni “pekinensis”-type, with a more saturated colour of the plumage than a typical Western Lesser Kestrel and almost wholly sooty led grey upperwing with a slightly visible rusty tinge on innermost “harm” and on scapulars. The breeding ground of this bird is unknown. On a true Chinese “pekinensis” the rusty tinge will be absent or barely visible and in some even the scapulars would be greyish tinged or grey. However, no birds with such a pattern are found in Europe usually and there are no illustration in any modern field guide showing such a plumage. Photo: © A.Corso

Acknowledgments

I wish to thanks as always the Tring, NHM staff to which I am much indebted for the most important help for any of my birds plumages studies. So a warm thanks goes to Katrina Kook, Robert-Pries Johanes, Mark Adams and the others working at Tring and that helped me in various way. On the same way, a warm thanks goes to Dr. Carla Marangoni, curator of the ornithological section at Museo Civico di Zoologia in Roma  (MCZR) for the countless hours of help while I was at the museum among hundreds of skins and specimens. Thanks also to the always kind and helpful Anita Gamauf, curator at the Wien Museum (NMW) and to Prof. Andrei Gavrilov who assisted during the skins study at Almaty Nature Museum of the Zoology Research Institute of the Academy of Science (IZA) and thanks to all the curators of all the other museums where I studied the skins collections in all my visits.

Materials

Birds studied in the field:

60.000+ birds  (MM and FF): in Italy, Spain, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Sinai, France, Greece, Israel, Turkey, Georgia, Kazakhstan.

Birds studied in the hand (combined skins and ringed birds):

(A)“Falco naumanni pekinensis”:  adult ♂. Rea. no. 1886.3.25.272. Near Ming Tombs, north of Peking, 18 Oct. 1868. Collected by R. Swinhoe. For comparison – 40♂♂- from China. (Tring, NHM; Wien, WNHM; Almaty Nature Museum, IZA); birds in the group (E) were not considered for the description of the characters of pekinensis

(B) Falco naumanni ssp. (showing intermediate characters): 75♂♂ ; 27♀♀ – Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan.

(C) Falco naumanni  (typical plumage): 270♂♂ ; 82♀♀  – coming from Spain, Italy, Greece, Tunisia, Morocco, Albania, France;

(D) Falco naumanni (both typical naumanni and intermediate birds): 79♂♂ ; 90♀♀  – Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, Iraq, Iran, Tanzania, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine,  Kirgizstan, Slovenia, South Africa, Check Republic, Georgia.

(E) Falco naumannipekinensis-type”: 10♂♂ from India.

Skins studied preserved at the following museums: Natural History Museum, Tring, England (NHM); Institute of Zoology, Almaty, Kazakhstan (IZA); Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano, Milan, Italy (MCSM); Museo Civico di Terrasini, Palermo, Italy (MCT); Museo Civico dell’Università di Scienze Naturali di Catania, Catania, Italy (MCUCT); Museo Civico di Zoologia di Roma, Rome, Italy (MCZR); Museo Regionale di Scienze Naturali di Torino, Torino, Italy (MRSN); Museo di Storia Naturale “Giacomo Doria”, Genova, Italy (MSNGD); Museo di Storia Naturale “La Specola”, Firenze, Italy (MSNLS); Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Carmagnola (); Museo Civico di Scienze Naturali “Angelo Priolo”, Randazzo, Italy (MCR); Naturhistorisches Museum Wien, Vienna, Austria (NMW); Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum Naturalis, Leiden, the Netherlands (NNM).

References

Ali, S. & S.D. Ripley, 1978. Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. 9: i-xvi, 1-306.— Bombay.

Brown, L. H., and Amadon, D., 1968. Eagles, Hawks and Falcons of the World, vol.1 and 2. Country Life Books, London.

Brown, L. H., Urban, E. K.& Newman, K. 1982. The Birds of Africa. Vol. I. London, UK: Academic Press.

Cheng, Tso-hsin, 1987. A synopsis of the Avifauna of China. i-xvi, 1-1223.— Beijing.

Cheng, Tso-hsin, 1994. A complete checklist of species and subspecies of the Chinese birds. i-xx, 1-

318.— Beijing.

Clark W.S., 1999. A Field Guide to Raptors of Europe, The Middle East and North Africa. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Corso A., 2000. Less is More: British vagrants, Lesser Kestrel. Birdwatch 91: 29-33.

Corso A., 2001. Notes on the moult and plumages of Lesser Kestrel. British Birds 94: 409-418.

Cramp S & Simmons K.E.L. eds., 1980. The Birds of the Western Palearctic. Vol. 2: Hawks to Bustards.  Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Domaniewski J., 1917: Przyczynek do znajomości form geograficznych Cerchneis naumanni (Fleisch.) [A

contribution to the knowledge of geographic forms of Cerchneis naumanni (Fleisch.)]. – Comptes Rendus

de la Société des Sciences de Varsovie 10 (9):1043-1047. [In Polish.]

Etchécopar, R. D. & Hüe, F., 1978. Les oiseaux de Chine, de Mongolie et de Corée – Vol. I, Non passereaux. Papeete, Tahiti,  Éditions du Pacifique.

Etchécopar, R. D. & Hüe, F. 1964. Les Oiseaux du Nord de l’Afrique, de la Mer Rouge aux Canaries. Paris, France: Editions N. Boubée & Cie.

Ferguson-Lees J. and Christie D.A., 2001. Raptors of the World. Christopher Helm, London.

Forsman D., 1999. The Raptors of Europe and the Middle East. A Handbook of Field Identification. L.T & A.D. Poyser, London.

Grimmett, R., C. Inskipp & T. Inskipp, 1998. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent. 1-888.— London.

Hartert, E., 1913. Die Vögel der paläarktischen Fauna, Heft VIII- p.1081.

Hartert, E. & F. Steinbacher, 1933. Die Vögel der Paläarktischen Fauna. Ergänzungsband. 2: 97-192.— Berlin.

Hodgson, B.H., 1844. Catalogue of Nipalese Birds collected between 1824 and 1844.— [Gray’s] Zoological

Miscellany: 81-86.

Hodgson, B.H., 1845a. Characters of six new species of Nepalese birds.— Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., (1) 15 (99): 326-327.

Hodgson, B.H., 1845b. [On Nepalese birds.].— Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond.: 22-37.

Hodgson, B.H., 1855. Catalogue of Nipalese Birds, collected between 1824 and 1844.— J. Asiatic Soc.

Bengal, 24 (7): 572-582.

Jerdon,T. C., 1871. Supplementary Notes to ‘The Birds of India’. Ibis 13: 335–356.

Inskipp, T.P., N. Lindsey & J.W. Duckworth, 1996. An Annotated Checklist of the Birds of the Oriental

Region. [i-x], 1-294.— Sandy, Beds., UK.

Rasmussen, P. C. & Anderton, J. C., 2005. Birds of South Asia: the Ripley guide. Barcelona, Lynx Editions.

Ripley, S.D., 1982. A synopsis of the birds of India and Pakistan together with those of Nepal, Bhutan,

Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. i-xxvi, 1-653.— Bombay.

Sharpe, R.B., 1874. Catalogue of the birds in the British Museum. I. Catalogue of the Accipitres or diurnal birds of prey in the collection of the British Museum.— London, Taylor & Francis.

Snow D.W. & Perrins C.M., 1998. Birds of the Western Palearctic: concise edition. Vol 1 – Non-Passerines. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Swinhoe, R., 1870. Zoological notes of a journey from Canton to Peking and Kalgan.— Proc. Zool. Soc.

Lond.: 427-451.

Swinhoe, R. 1871. A Revised Catalogue of the Birds of China and its Islands, with Descriptions of New Species, References to former Notes, and occasional Remarks. Proc. Zool. Soc. Lond.: 337-423.

Vaurie, C., 1965. The Birds of the Palearctic Fauna. A systematic reference. Non-Passeriformes: i-xxi, 1-

763.— London.

Zarudny, N.A., 1912. On the Ornithology of Turkestan – Urinator arcticus suschkini and Cerchneis naumanni turkestanicus subspp. nov. Ornithologische Mitteilungen : 114.

Warren, R.L.M., 1966. Type-specimens of birds in the British Museum (Natural History). 1: i-x, 1-

320.— London.

Warren, R.L.M. & C.J.O. Harrison, 1971. Type-specimens of birds in the British Museum (Natural History).

2: i-vi, 1-628.— London.

Warren, R.L.M. & C.J.O. Harrison, 1973. Type-specimens of birds in the British Museum (Natural History).

3: i-xii, 1-76.— London.

–          APPENDIX I

LESSER KESTREL NOMENCLATURE  (synonym)

FALCO NAUMANNI  (Fleischer, 1818)

–          Falco naumanni [as Naumanni] J.G.Fleischer, 1818 – in Laurop & Fischer, Sylvan. Ein Jahrbuch für Forstmänner,Jäger und Jagdfreunde auf das Jahr 1818, p.174. (“spärlicher Gast im südl. Deutschland und Schweiz”; error for Sicily, fide Stresemann (MS))

Falco xantonyx [as Xantonyx] J.G.Fleischer(ex Natterer MS), 1818- in Laurop & Fischer, Sylvan. Ein Jahrbuch für Forstmänner, Jäger und Jagdfreunde auf das Jahr 1818, p.175. (= F.naumanni)

Falco tinnunculoides Temminck (ex Natterer MS) (1820) – Manuel d’ornithologie, ou Tableau systématique des oiseaux qui se trouvent en Europe…,2nd edn,1,p.30. (“Hongrie,Autriche-Naples-Sicile-Sardaigne-Espagne”). (= F.naumanni)

Falco cenchris Frisch (1820) – in J.F.Naumann, Johann Andreas Naumann’s mehrerer gelehrten Gesellschaften Mitgliede, Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands ,2nd edn,1,p.318,pl.29. (Italy,Austria,Tyrol,Switzerland,Savoy,Piedmont).

Falco xanthonyx Naumann (ex Natterer MS) (1822) – Johann Andreas Naumann’s mehrerer gelehrten Gesellschaften Mitgliede,Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands…,1,p.323. (= F.naumanni)

Falco tinnuncularius Roux,1825 – Ornithologie provençale;ou description…de tous les oiseaux qui habitent constamment la Provence,ou qui n’y sont de passage,1,p.60,pls.40,41. (Provence). (= F.naumanni)

Falco subtinnunculus C.L.Brehm (1827) – Ornis,3 Heft,p.12. (Egypt and southern European islands). (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis cenchris C.L.Brehm (1831) – Handbuch der Naturgeschichte aller Vögel Deutschlands,p.74. (= F.naumanni)

Tinnunculus cenchris Bonaparte (1842) – Catalogo Metodico degli Uccelli di Europa, p.21. (= F.naumanni)

Tichornis cenchris Kaup (1844) – Classification der Säugethiere und Vögel,p.108. (= F.naumanni)

Poecilornis cenchris Kaup, 1850 in W.Jardine(ed.) – Contributions to Ornithology for 1850,p.53. (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis paradoxa C.L.Brehm, 1855- Der Vollständige Vogelfang,p.29. (Greece). (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis ruficeps C.L.Brehm,1855,Naumannia, p.269. (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis ruficauda C.L.Brehm,1855, Naumannia, p.269. (= F.naumanni)

Erythropus cenchris Jerdon , 1862 – The Birds of India, 1, p.38. (= F.naumanni)

Falco naumanni naumanni – Hartert,1913 [“1921”], Die Vögel der paläarktischen Fauna,Heft VIII(Aug.),p.1080. (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis naumanni  – Sharpe (1874) – Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum,1, Accipitres or Diurnal Birds of Prey, p.435. (= F.naumanni)

Falco cenchris var. pekinensis Swinhoe (1870). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,p.442. (near Peking).(= F. naumanni pekinensis)

Tichornis pekinensis Swinhoe (1871). Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London,p.341. (= F. naumanni pekinensis)

Cerchneis pekinensis in Sharpe (1874). Catalogue of the Birds in the British Museum,1, Accipitres or Diurnal Birds of Prey,p.437. (= F.naumanni pekinensis )

Erythropus pekinensis in Jerdon (1871). Ibis,p.242. (= F.naumanni pekinensis)

Falco naumanni pekinensis Hartert 1913 [“1921”], Die Vögel der paläarktischen Fauna, Heft VIII(Aug.),p.1081. (= F.naumanni pekinensis)

Cerchneis angolensis Bocage, 1876 – Jornal de Sciencias mathematicas,physicas e naturas, publicado sob os auspicos da Academia real das sciencias da Lisboa 5: 153. (Huilla in Angola). (= F.naumanni)

Cerchneis naumanni turkestanicus Zarudy, 1912 – Ornithologische Mitteilungen, p.114. (= F.naumanni ssp.)

Cerchneis naumanni sarmaticus Domaniewski, 1917 – Compt. Rend. Soc. Sci. Varsovie, X, p. 1044. (= F.naumanni)

15 Days, 150 Moments in 7 Minutes

Pushing the Boundaries Tour

So much squeezed into just over a couple of weeks. Here’s a 7 minute peak into life on the road for Tormod and myself. Too many people to thank and crammed with fond memories. Here’s a taster (thanks largely to Mr Amundsen!).

 

Pushing the boundaries tour the movie

 

Watch the Action:

.

Also see Tormod’s excellent post and more detail here.


pushing the boundaries tour meetings birders

and a few photos from our talks:

49a

Picture4

Picture5

vardø jan 2012 gullfest2013 aerial poster

 

homeyeri Great Grey Shrike

in Hungary

by Martin

Bence and Szabolcs Kókay have been in touch about a Great Grey Shrike photographed by Szabolcs in Hungary (I think in Feb 2006).

It’s a smart looking bird. I have learnt since exploring the subject that some western and especially central European birds have been, in the past, defined as a separate taxon with tendency to show more white in wings and tail. However birds such as this one may be outside even that range. From what I know (with much to learn) this bird is  very homeyeri– like, especially the extent of white in the secondaries and long white edges on inner secondaries reaching to the feather tip. I have had a quick look through large skin collection at Tring but it overwhelmed me last time I tried!

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With thanks to Bence and Szabolcs.
Szabolcs blog is: http://kokayart.blogspot.hu/
and his homepage: www.kokay.hu