Thursday, March 11, 2010

Shore Road

Thought it was about time I tried to photograph the sum plum Barwit at Shore Road.
It is clearly a male which are much more colourful than the females. This bird seems to be the same one which appears every winter in full summer plumage even down to the all dark bill (bar a small area at the base) which apparently only usually occurs for the short breeding period.

Here it is stood next to a larger, longer billed female

Over the years there has been various discussions on the possible reasons why this bird should turn up every year in the wrong plumage. It was touted at one point to possibly be vagrant baueri or menzbieri
Decided to do a bit of investigating.
These birds are basically clinal getting bigger and proportionately longer legged and longer billed as they go east. This is most obvious in females where the bills can get really long.
However the best way to do them is in flight. lapponica (our birds) have a white rump which goes up the back into a V. baueri basically has a dark rump and menzbieri does have a white rump going up the back into a V but it is barred.
The pic below seems to show that it is a lapponica, although there are certainly a few more markings on the white area than the other two birds.

Looking through the other birds it became apparent that the size differences between male and female could be pretty stark. Check out this pic below. The bird on the right is enormous compared to the bird in the foreground, and it is further away. Look in particular to how much longer the bill is and how much more tarsus is visible out of the water.
Could this be one of the big eastern birds?

Pretty sure this is the bird below in flight, and it has got a white rump. This seems to me almost as remarkable as if it were a larger race, being way bigger than the surrounding birds.

Another feature of baueri and menzbieri is a much more heavily marked underwing. Going through some of the other photos managed to find these two birds. One has the usual rather unmarked underwing, the other not so usual. Presumably just a variation but maybe worth another trip to Shore Road to have another more critical look at these birds.

1st year Med

Pair of adult summer Meds, one ringed

Closer shot of one of the pair showing the ring more clearly. White 3T10 from Belgium or France.

Green 627 from France

As with the Baiter birds the Crows at Shore road will also grab a shell and drop it in the road to break. This one was searching for left overs

This one had dropped this shell and was off somewhere quieter to eat it