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Thursday, 10 November 2011


Female GREN-WINGED TEAL just leaving the Big Pool, St Agnes?

  Just before 08.00, close in shore at Porth Mellon, I was watching the 1st winter male Eider that was yesterday off Morning Point, Garrison. It's the first one that I've seen this year on Scilly and nearby at Porthloo there was a single Black Redstart.

1st winter male Eider

  45 minutes later and I was on St Agnes and had a great day. It started off with the male Lapland Bunting at Porth Killier. With in an hour, I had already seen 1 Skylark, 1 Goldcrest, 3 each Blackcap and Chiffchaff, Kestral, male Peregrine, female Merlin and Sparrowhawk, the CENTRAL ASIAN LESSER WHITETHROAT, Periglis and a first for me, being a female, the GREEN-WINGED TEAL on the Big Pool. Or is it? Keeping company with the teal, was a male 'aythya' duck. I could clearly see that it wasn't a Tufted duck and thoughts started going towards a hybrid type thing. Oh god, what can I say. It's a mongrel. Have a look at the pics below.
  What was more important was studying the teal, or trying to. It always kept it's distance and proved to be very flighty, which was handy. Flushed by a dog walker, from the base to the center of the wing bar, it was a deep buff. This is apparently a good feature, but hell, I needed to see more than this. I did, when it returned later and I got good views on the deck.

From Advanced Bird ID Guide, The Western Palearctic, here is the discription of fem GW Teal.  Breast and fore-flanks densely dark spotted, darker and browner general appearance than Common Teal. Often rather well defined head-pattern with obvious eye-stripe and pale spot on lores (sometimes resembling Garganey or BW Teal) Very little or no orange-yellow at base of bill-base. It goes on to say that identification of adult female in the WP, as yet, not possible. 

Female and immature Green-winged and Eurasian Teal

Obviously both Green-winged and Eurasian Teal in female and immature plumages are very similar to each other but Green-winged may appear more sepia-toned or gray overall whereas Eurasian often appears buffier in coloration.
The head patterns of Eurasian are usually rather indistinct and plain and lack contrast, whereas in Green-winged the head pattern is often distinct and can even sometimes recall Garganey. In Green-winged the eye stripe and crown may be dark brown which highlights the supercilium, which is pale. Some birds show a dark ear-covert smudge and this can emphasize the pale upper cheek stripe, which in birds without the dark smudge can not look as bright.
Sometimes the loral area has a pale spot, far more pronounced than in Eurasian and the throat is often very pale or almost white. The whole face in Green-winged is often less marked with streaks or freckles than in Eurasian too.
The upperwing of Eurasian has a greater covert bar which is usually white sometimes washed cinnamon whereas in Green-winged the bar is evenly and richly cinnamon-buff in coloration. On Eurasian the cinnamon color wash is usually restricted to the inner third of the hand, whereas in Green-winged it covers 80% or more. The tips of the outer secondaries are usually broader in Green-winged than Eurasian too.
The tightness of the mottling on the breast and fore-flanks has also been cited as a character for separation between the two species, with Green-winged generally showing smaller and more compact patterning, giving a darker impression overall, especially when combined with the browner background coloring (rather than gray in Eurasian).
The bill in juveniles shows a large yellow or pinky-orange color on the lower mandible and base of the upper mandible in Eurasian but Green-winged shows far less coloration and may even be all-dark or with color restricted to the lower mandible. Bills of females are similar but appear to be a little more variable (Millington 1998).
Of all the features mentioned for female and immature birds the most conistent and apparently crucial feature is the coloration of the greater coverts, and it is probably best to ensure this feature is present first before using the other features as back-up to an identification.
Hybrids have been recorded on several occasions, in Europe, the States and Hawai'i and it seems likely that although drakes are identifiable as hybrids, females and juveniles would probably be unidentifiable.

Does the buff on the wing bar extend 80% or less?

There are a few features looking good for GW Teal, but it is a challenge and I have no experience with female GW Teal. What do you think?

Another challenge was this 'aythya' thing. Personally, I think it's a male Tufted x Scaup, but I could be proved wrong.

Male Lapland Bunting at Porth Kilier

Immature male Peregrine over the cricket pitch

What on earth is this?

This CENTRAL ASIAN LESSER WHITETHROAT was dancing all over the shop in the dead Mallows trying to dry itself off in the sun from after having a bath

A few hours later and the whitethroat looking pretty good.

  After leaving the Big Pool, I started making my way to the Parsonage. Here I found 7 Chiffchaff and 4 Blackcap feeding in the warm sun. I was just about to leave, when I heard what I thought was a RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER. Then there it was, direcetly in front of me on a branch. Every 5 or so minutes, it would return to the same area and here gave good views. Looking up to lighthouse and there were 4 Swallow enjoying the beautiful weather. At the fruit Cage, there was a Firecrest. I returned to the big pool to see if the GW Teal had returned. It hadn't but watching the whitethroat was Doug and Will Wagstaff. We all discused about the 2 ducks on the pool and then they went to have a look for the RB Fly.

This RED-BREASTED FLYCATCHER in the parsonage showed very well.

Altogether I saw 12-15 Chiffchaff and 8 Blackcap on the island

There were 4 Swallow in the blue skies

  With so many different species of weatear in the UK at the moment, I thought I would follow the coastal path all the round the island. It was so hot and for my troubles all I got was nothing. Nevermind, I rather do it and not think what might of been. I carried on round until I reached Porth Killier. Here I immediately heard the Lapland Bunting and found it perched in the Brambles. I blasted it and a bird landed next to it. A Reed Bunting! The 2 just sat there, side by side and then they hit the deck together and I left them there alone. Again I tried for the GW Teal and this time it was there. Will joined me and we both saw a Woodcock fly in from Porth Coose across to Periglis. Will wanted to see the Reed Bunting and both buntings were there showing well. 15.30 and our boat was coming in to get us and Chaz 'Saga' group. At one point, it took Chaz to work out whether both Will and I were part of the group or just the riff-raff. Standing on the quay, Will spotted the immature male Marsh Harrier on Gugh. See, I bet none of the group would of seen that one. Infact, they couldn't see the boat when it came in and when it pulled up at the side of the quay, they asked 'When is the boat arriving, it's late'

male Stonechat at Wingletang

Returning later to have a look at the Lapland Bunting found this Reed Bunting with it

This Woodcock might of just come in off the sea as it flew low over Periglis

immature male Marsh Harrier quartering Gugh

My first and last bird of the day was the Eider. It was showing at very close range just of the quay. As we returned from St Agnes into the quay, while it was asleep, it almost got run over by the boat.

Last night it so bright, because of the moon, that it was almost like day light. It looks like it's going to be the same this evening. Martin Goodey

I should of used this song for the blog I did two days ago, 8th November. Fantastic song by Tom Petty 'Rhino Skin'

'You need 'Rhino Skin'or your going to give in to the work of the evils of men
You need elephant balls if you don't want to crawl on your own to the end'

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