Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blackbird variety and 'variety'?

A cold snap in Dec 2010 brought an influx of Blackbirds into the garden. I was intrigued by the variety of plumages on show and began taking photos, eventually coming up with 18 identifiable individuals.
Some were fairly standard looking, but others were sporting all sorts of pale edgings and chevrons indicating birds from presumably a bit further afield. A little research into these birds occasionally brought up the word 'stockamsel'
This January with quite a few Blackbirds around, I have been having another look. Now that I dont have to charge around the country for photos I can spend more time doing other pointless and obscure things like this!
Stockamsel was apparently quite a popular term in the 60's but is not used at all nowadays. The name was first coined by the German Johann Andreas Naumann of thrush fame. He used the word for young males that resembled females. Not sure if there is an English name equivalent, but perhaps 'Ladyboy' would fit!

BWP has a picture of a 'stockamsel' and labels it a 'variety'. Unfortunately there is no mention of it in the text. Finding anything else out about stockamsels has proved quite difficult but it seems that the term has now been replaced by 'continental' Blackbird.

So far I have identified at least 15 Blackbirds coming to the garden,  including a few with noticeable pale edgings.

Bird 1

Bird 2

Bird 3

Bird 4
 Presumably a dark female or is it one of Naumann's Ladyboys!?

The next birds are rather more standard looking but can still be individually identified.

Bird 5
Almost adult, still got old primaries. Distinctive bill pattern.

Bird 6

Can be identified by white blob near base of upper mandible and some white blobs above eyering

Bird 7
A few more white blobs above eyering than bird 6, and what looks like dark bill markings (along with some mud)

Bird 8 
No white blobs and all yellow bill

Bird 9 
Moody first year female.

Bird 10
Adult male with dark area on upper mandible (If you are now scratching your chin and think there is some double counting going on here, I definitely saw at least 4 normal adult looking birds together so I can claim the numbers on that anyway!)

Bird 11
Another first year female, with a mixture of new and old greater coverts

Bird 12
Very thin and indistinct eyering. This bird only showed up yesterday. Taken in very low light levels but did show pale edged feathering.

Bird 13 
A few window reflections here

There were also 2 other obvious first winter males occasionally visiting, bringing the total to 15 individuals. Only did this lot in two sessions so there are probably also a few more birds kicking about.