Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Expert Speaks

Just a posting or so below I stuck up some shots of birds that I'd taken on holiday last week.

You might remember this little feathered being. The photo was taken on the west coast of Brittany, close to the dunes of the Plage Ste Anne, Near to Ste Anne la Palud in the Baie de Douarnenez. (Check Google Earth if you really want to know where I'm wittering on about).At first sight, I was pretty certain it was a pipit of some kind. After an additional and quite thorough perusal of the manuals at Millbrooker Towers, I changed m mind and thought it was an autumn/winter plumage wheatear.

I was more or less right, but here's the detailed analysis from no less a personage than, and I quote his impressive job title in full, the "Habitat Creation and Demonstration Site Project Manager, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) Slimbridge". Said HC&DSPM is called Tim and I get to pick his brains on matters ornithological on the grounds that Trickers is distantly related to him somehow through marriage (I think); also because he's a very helpful and knowledgeable chap.

Here's Tim's detailed response to my query about what Mrs The Millbrooker and I had been looking at:

"This one's a (northern) wheatear - female/1st winter type.

Good thing to look out for is the obvious white tail which has a black terminal bar and the central tail feathers which are also half black.

Overall the bird is buff/brown in colour, though the upper parts are darker than the breast.

In males the supercillium (stripe above the eye - literal meaning is 'above-eye') is white and prominent with a dark eye strip in front and behind the eye.

In females/1st winters the super doesn't show white in front of the eye and the eye stripe is less obvious being more of a smudge than true black. The pale tips to the wings show that these are new feathers (hence this image would have been taken from June to Oct), which like a stonechat wear off during the winter to give a sharper dark colour to the wings come the spring.

A summer migrant nesting right throughout the Western Palearctic *- usually in uplands or dry heath lands/grasslands wintering in Africa .

Common along the coastline during spring/autumn as migrants arrive/leave. Usually arrives back in the UK from early March. hope this helps."

*Europe, Middle East and North Africa

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