Friday, 2 February 2018

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)

Latin Etymology: Actitis (coast-dweller) macularius ("spot")

First Winter Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius) at Holme Pierrepont, Nottingham - January 2018

Weight: 34-50g
Length: 18-20cm
Wingspan: 40cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

It is certainly the case that rare birds can turn up in the most peculiar of locations - in this particular case, along the margins of an artificial white water course in Nottingham.  It must be the first time when going to see a rare species came with spectator stands.  The spotted sandpiper is the equivalent of the Common Sandpiper for the America, breeding in the North and Wintering in the South.  Although this first Winter individual doesn't have them, the name comes from the breeding plumage adults which have a highly speckled breast.

Related Species:
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Actitis
Subspecies: none - monotypic

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A very rare vagrant
 - Single bird seen at Holme Pierrepont (January 2018) 

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Black Swan (Cygnus atratus)

OTHER NAMES: Kooldjak, Gooldjak
Latin Etymology: Cygnus ("swan") atratus ("black")

Escapee Adult Black Swan (subspecies C. a. atratus) at Holme Pierrepont, Nottinghamshire - January 2018

Featured Subspecies: Cygnus atratus atratus
Weight: 3.7-9kg
Length: 110-142cm
Wingspan: 1.6-2cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

While a number of duck species have escaped captivity and gone feral, swans haven't had the same success.  In part this is because they tend to be less popular in collections to begin with.  The Black Swan is a native of Australia and the closest thing to an established feral swan species we have - there are a few small established populations dotted around the country, plus other sole individuals like this.  Interestingly, a black swan existed in European folklore before before Australia was discovered - a symbol for extreme rarity in contrast to the white swans familiar in Europe.

Related Species:
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Cygnus
Subspecies: C. a. atratus, C. a. sumnerensis (extinct)

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A Rare Feral Breeding Resident and Regular Escapee
 - Single bird seen at Holme Pierrepont (January 2018) 

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)

OTHER NAMES: Woodcock, Great snipe, Kevelek
Latin Etymology: Scolopax ("woodcock") rusticola ("rural inhabitant")
Adult Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) at Geddington Chase, Northants - December 2017

Weight: 240-420g
Length: 33-35cm
Wingspan: 55-65cm
UK RED LIST IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The woodcock is a species that manages to be abundant, but at the same time one of the most hard to catch up with in any meaningful way of all British species.  Although it is a member of the waders, it is a resident of woodland, where it uses it's long beak to probe into wet ground to find it's food.  It is also a species that is not only largely nocturnal but very well camouflaged and frequently only breaks cover at the last possible second - this bird here was in a ditch about 2 meters away from me, with me having no idea it was there until it burst forth for an instant before swooping off and vanishing again.  It's more readily seen on evenings at places where it breeds, where it has a distinctive "roding" call, although in other places it is best seen after snow in Winter, where they are both more conspicous and more likely to come into the open.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Scolopax
Subspecies: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Uncommon breeding (55,000 pairs) and abundant Winter visitor (1.4 million birds)
 - Migrant birds seen at Geddington during periods of snow.

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus)

Latin Etymology: Loxia ("crosswise") pytyopsittacus ("pine parrot")
Adult Male Parrot Crossbill at Wishmoor Bottom, Surrey - December 2017

Weight: 53g
Length: 16-18cm
Wingspan: 27-31cm
UK AMBER LIST IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Parrot Crossbill is a bird which very much gets it's name from it's beak: the crossbills as a group of species are all conifer specialists with unique crossed mandibles that they use to pry open seeds from cones.  Out of the three species found in the UK, the Parrot Crossbill is generally considered to be the largest and rarest - only a small relic population remains in the Highlands of Scotland, though they remain more common elsewhere.  They do however on occasion, as in this case, irrupt from elsewhere when there is a shortage of food allowing me a much easier job of seeing them then looking in Scotland and trying to separate out the other two, very very similar species.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Loxia
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A small relic population in Scotland (65 pairs) and rare irruptive vagrant
 - An irruptive vagrant flock seen at Wishmoor Bottom in December 2017

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

Latin Etymology: Phalaropus ("coot foot") tricolor ("three coloured")
First Winter Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) at Oare Marshes, Kent - October 2017

Weight: 51-79g
Length: 23cm
Wingspan: 38cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

Wilson's is the the largest of the three species of Phalarope and the only one not normally found in Europe - it's a bird that ordinarily breeds in North America and travels to the South, with very occasional vagrants like this one getting blown off course to Europe.  Perhaps the most distinctive thing about the Wilson's Phalarope while watching it though is it's perculiar feeding technique - it moves rapidly in small circles on the surface of the water which apparently sucks small invertibrates upwards where the bird can feed on it.  In addition to doing this, this particular bird had mastered another technique - stalking a feeding Northern Shoveler at short distance, presumably to feed on the creatures disturbed in it's wake.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Phalaropus
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Very rare vagrant
 A vagrant Oare Marshes in October 2017.

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

OTHER NAMES: Grasshopper Warbler, Western Grasshopper Warbler
Latin Etymology: Locustella ("small locust") naevia ("spotted")

Adult male Common Grasshopper Warbler (subspecies L. n. naevia) at Laundinum Woods, Northants - April 2017

Featured Subspecies: Locustella naevia naenvia 
Weight: 9.7-15g
Length: 13cm
Wingspan: 15-19cm
UK RED LIST IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Grasshopper Warbler is a widespread but scarce Summer migrant to the UK - a small brown warbler with very skulking behaviour whose presence is largely revealed by it's distinctive song.  Apart from the related and far rarer Savi's Warbler it's call is unmistakable in the UK - it is often described as insect like, giving the species it's name, or, like a fishing line being reeled in, hence the description of it's song as "reeling".  I struggled to locate this species for years, but eventually came across some after following a tip for a local site.

Related Species:
ORDER: Passeriformes
FAMILY: Locustellidae
GENUS: Locustella
SUBSPECIES: L. n. naeiva, L. n. obscurior, L. n. straminea, L. n. mongolica

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Description
 - Two birds at Laundinum Woods in April 2017, one heard only .

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica)

OTHER NAMES: Bluethroat Redpoll
Latin Etymology: Luscinia ("Nightingale") svecica ("Swedish")

First Winter Male Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica - unknown subspecies) at Willow Tree Fen, Lincolnshire - February 2017

Featured Subspecies: Unknown - probably L. s. svecica or L. s. cyanecula
Weight: 12-25g
Length: 13-14cm
Wingspan: 23cm
UK AMBER LIST IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The bluethroat is a small robin like bird found throughout much of Eurasia, although it's range is fairly scattered due to habitat requirements - it breeds in colder, wooded areas, usually near water and then in Winter heads either South or at least into lowland wetlands to Winter.  The Summer plumage male is in my opinion one of the prettiest of all European birds- a brilliant blue throat and chest interspersed with bands of orange and black (and in some subspecies, white spots) and a flash of bright russet orange on the tail.   This particular bird is very unusual in that in the UK it is normally a passage migrant that appears only very briefly - usually a few hours or so - before vanishing on, while this bird at Willow Tree Fen was not only very early in the year, but also has of my writing this been present for several weeks - seemingly it might be deciding to Winter here.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Luscinia
SUBSPECIES: L. s. svecica, L.s. namnetum, L. s. cyanecula, L. s. azuricollis, L. s. volgae, L. s. magna, L. s. luristanica, L. s. pallidogularis, L. s. tianschanica, L. s. abbotti, L. s. przewalskii, L. s. kobdensis

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A rare but regular passage migrant.
 - Seen at Willow Tree Fen (February 2017) 

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum Opus, BirdGuides, IUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)

OTHER NAMES: Steppe Gull, Pontic Gull
Latin Etymology: Larus ("Gull") cachinnans ("laughing")

Third Winter Caspian Gull (subspecies  L. c. cachinnans) at Thames Barrier Park - February 2017

Featured Subspecies: Larus cachinnans cachinnans
Weight: 680-1500g
Length: 56-68cm
Wingspan: 137-155cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

 In some ways, I have found the Caspian Gull to be one of the most vexing species to catch up with despite having visited a number of sites which are good for them in a number of counties.  Looking at this bird the reasons should perhaps be obvious, this is a species which very closely resembles the far more common Herring Gull.  Indeed, it was only comparatively recently that it was recognised as it's own species at all and even some fairly up to date bird books will not include them.  While they are a regular Wintering species in the UK in small numbers it tends to be in places which host large numbers of gulls anyway - often near land fill sites where picking out the subtle features of this species among legions of assorted other gulls species is a daunting prospect.  I advise reading up online to get a greater understanding of the features which include a long beak, small dark eyes, long legs and other assorted things is key to this, although I must admit that the final thing that let me get this species was finding out about a reliable site that offered close views and running into a generous birder who pointed out this individual to me.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Laridae
Genus: Larus
SUBSPECIES: L. c. cachinnans, L. c. barabensis*, L. c. mongolicus*

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM -  An uncommon Winter visitor
 - Single bird seen at Thames Barrier Park (February 2017)

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red ListXeno-Canto

*Sometimes considered their own species .

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)

OTHER NAMES: Skunk-headed Coot
Latin Etymology: Melanitta ("black duck") perspicillata ("conspicuous")

First Winter Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) at Rutland Water, Rutland - December 2016

Weight: 950-1700g
Length: 44-48cm
Wingspan: 77cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

A large sea-duck species found breeding around the coasts of Canada and Alaska, they breed on freshwater lakes.  This bird was a vagrant that had turned up along the dam end of Rutland Water where it was associated with a group of mostly male tufted ducks.  This bird is apparently a first winter bird, though as with the most duck species the adult male is a far more dramatic bird with a bizarre oversized beak coloured white, yellow red, pink with a huge black blotch.

Related Species: 
Order: Anseriformes
Family: Anatidae
Genus: Melanitta
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A rare vagrant.
 - A single vagrant bird seen at Rutland Water (December 2016) 

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, WikipediaXeno-Canto .

Monday, 29 August 2016

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris)

OTHER NAMES: White-collared Kingfisher, Mangrove Kingfisher
Latin Etymology: Todiramphus ("Small bird, bill") chloris ("green")

Adult Collared Kingfisher (subspecies T. c. humii) at Malacca, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name - Malay: Pekaka Bakau ("Mangrove Kingfisher") 
Featured Subspecies: Todiramphus chloris humii 
Weight: 51-90g
Length: 24cm
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

I must admit that when I first saw this bird on a dead tree looking at me face on, it looked slightly like a bedraggled fledgling house crow and it wasn't until I continued along the route I was walking I realised that in fact it was a new species of Kingfisher for me.  As you can probably guess from my mistake, this is another kingfisher that is substantially larger than the Eurasian Kingfisher.  Unlike the white-throated however, this is a bird specialized to the coast and mangroves in particular.  However, this bird (and indeed, it's partner I saw together with it a few minutes later) had a slightly different habitat - under a massive road-bridge across the mouth at the river at Malacca at the side of what was essentially brownfield site.  However, even so it posed for me very nicely and made a great final new bird of the trip.

Related Species:
Order: Coraciiformes  
Family: Alcedinidae  
Genus: Todiramphus
SUBSPECIES: T. c. abyssinicus, T. c. kalbaensis, T. c. humii, T. c. vidali, T. c. armstrongi, T. c. davisoni, T. c. occipitalis, T. c. chloropterus, T. c. azelus, T. c. palmeri, T. c. laubmannianus, T. c. collaris, T. c. chloris, T. c. teraokai

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A locally common resident.  
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: A pair near the river mouth in Malacca

Further Notes: ArkiveBirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, WikipediaXeno-canto .

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Crested Goshawk (Accipiter trivirgatus)

OTHER NAMES: Asian Crested Goshawk, Ceylon Crested Goshawk
Latin Etymology: Accipiter ("to grasp") trivirgatus ("three stripe")

Adult Female Crested Goshawk (subspecies A. t. indicus) at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name - Malay: Helang Sewah Besar ("Large Sparrow-hawk Eagle")
Featured Subspecies: Accipiter trivirgatus indicus
Weight: 224-450g
Length: 30-46cm
Wingspan: 65-85cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Crested Goshawk is a medium sized species of raptor that I came across entirely unexpectedly - we were walking along the road from our Kuala Lumpur hotel as we did every day but just as we crossed an overpass, there was a large amount of squawking from house crows around - clearly something they didn't like was around.  Upon looking into the tree above me, my initial impression was of a huge thrush - the bold streaking on it's chest certainly very reminiscent of a song thrush.  However, it quickly became apparent that it was this impressive raptor species. As is usual with raptors, the female is the larger of the two.

Related Species:
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Accipiter
SUBSPECIES: A. t. indicus, A. t. peninsulae, A. t. layardi, A. t. formosae, A. t. trvirgatus, A. t. niasensis, A. t. javanicus, A. t. microstictus, A. t. palawanus, A. t. extimus, A. t. castroi

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A widespread resident
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: A single bird in Kuala Lumpur

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto   .

Blyth's Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus alboniger)

Latin Etymology: Nisaetus (?) alboniger ("white black")

Adult Blyth's Hawk-eagle (Nisaetus alboniger) at Genting Highlands, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name - Malay: Helang Hindek Gunung ("Hindek Mountain Eagle")
Weight: 830g
Length: 51-58cm
Wingspan: 56-70cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern 

A distinctive black and white raptor of the lower reaches of mountainous rainforest, this species is in many ways little known due to it's rainforest habitat - it's diet includes lizards and bats, but possibly more, it's population size is unknown but has a large enough range that it is not currently believed to be in danger.  However, it is tolerant of some human activity - as demonstrated by the fact I saw it at Genting.  It is named after the English Zoologist Edward Blyth - a man who was the curator of the Royal Asiatic Society of Bengal and a correspondent of Darwin who first described this species to Western Science.

Related Species:
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Nisaetus
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A widespread but local resident.
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: A single bird Genting Highlands

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuides, IUCN Red ListRSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto     .

Friday, 26 August 2016

Orange-bellied Leafbird (Chloropsis hardwickii)

OTHER NAMES: Hardwicke's Leafbird, Orange-belled Chloropsis
Latin Etymology: Chloropsis ("green-like") hardwickii ("Hardwick's")

Female Orange-bellied Leafbird (subspecies C. h. malayana) at Genting Highlands, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Burung Daun Perut Oren ("Orange-stomach Leaf Bird")
Featured Subspecies: Chloropsis hardwickii malayensis
Weight: 25-40g
Length: 19-21cm
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The leafbirds are a family of birds unique to the "Indomalayan Ecozone" - an area which stretches from Afghanistan to New Guinea and the Philippines, and the Orange-bellied is a fairly typical example of the group: a bird of approximately thrush like proportions and bright leafy green upperparts.  The male, as is often the cast, is the more spectacularly coloured of the sexes with a much more distinctive orange-yellow belly of the namesake, plus indigo and electric blue feathering. Their curved beak is specialised for feeding on insects, spiders and nectar.

Related Species:
ORDER: Passeriformes
FAMILY: Chloropseidae
GENUS: Chloropsis
SUBSPECIES: C. h. hardwickii, C. h. malayana, C. h. melliana, C. h. lazuliana 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A locally common resident.
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: A single bird at Genting Highlands 

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto   .

White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster)

OTHER NAMES: White-Bellied Fish Eagle, White-breasted Fish Eagle
Latin Etymology: Haliaeetus ("Sea Eagle") leucogaster ("white abdomen")

Juvenile White-bellied Sea Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) at Malacca, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Helang Siput ("Snail Eagle") 
Weight: 4.5kg
Length: 75-85cm
Wingspan: 2.2m
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The White-Bellied Sea Eagle was actually one of the very first bird species I encountered on the Malaysia/Singapore trip - on the night we arrived I spent about 30 minutes standing in the driveway just to see what would turn up, and a pair of these huge birds circled high overhead.  This is perhaps indicative of something I haven't really encountered in other eagles - the are far happier to live near humans than all the other species.  Unlike the other species I have encountered, I found them right in the middle of Cities - either flying over Central Singapore or a family perched right in the middle of central Malacca. The bird pictured is a juvenile, and so lacks the distinctive mostly white plumage of the adults, which I did see (indeed, on the same perch) but more more distantly at the time.

Related Species:
Order: Accipitriformes
Family: Accipitridae
Genus: Haliaeetus
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A locally common resident on the coast.
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: At least three seen in Central Malacca
SINGAPORE - A fairly common resident.
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: Two birds seen circling high above Lower Peirce Reservoir.

Further Notes: ArkiveBirdForum OpusBirdGuides, IUCN Red ListRSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .

Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis)

OTHER NAMES: Eastern Black-naped Oriole
Latin Etymology: Oriolus ("Golden") chinensis ("Chinese")

Adult Male Black-naped Oriole (subspecies O. c. diffusus) at Kuala Lumpur - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Burung Kunyit Besar ("Great Tumeric Bird")
Featured Subspecies: Oriolus chinensis diffusus
Weight: 65-100g
Length: 23-28cm
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

While the Golden Oriole of Europe is a shy bird in much of it's range, in Malaysia the Black-naped Oriole is a common sight and sound.  I first encountered them as a bright yellow flash between trees and subsequently encountered them on most days of the trip - still not keen on being exposed much of the time, but found in any notably green space we visited.  It has a typical oriole song - high pitched and perhaps a little shrill, but very fluid and distinctive - it will often be the first thing to alert you to the bird's presence.

Related Species:
ORDER: Passeriformes
FAMILY: Oriolidae
GENUS: Oriolus
SUBSPECIES: O. c. diffusus, O. c. andamanensis, O. c. macrourus, O. c. chinensis, O. c. suluensis, O. c. melanisticus, O. c. sanghirensis, O. c. formosus, O. c. celebensis, O. c. frontalis, O. c. oscillans, O. c. boneratensis, O. c. mundus, O. c. sipora, O. c. richmondi, O. c. insularis, O. c. broderipii, O. c. maculatus 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A common resident.
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: Seen multiple times daily in Kuala Lumpur and a few birds in Malacca

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuides, IUCN Red ListRSPB, WikipediaXeno-canto .

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus)

OTHER NAMES: Oriental Pipit
Latin Etymology: Anthus ("flower") rufulus ("red-headed")

Adult Paddyfield Pipit (subspecies A. r. malayensis) at Malacca, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Ciak Bendang ("Field Cheep")
Featured Subspecies: Anthus rufulus malayensis
Weight: ?
Length: 16cm
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The paddyfield pipit is a very widespread Asian species of pipit - one of the very few found in the region.  It was one of a number of species formerly considered part of Richard's Pipit, but that group was subsequently split off into African, Mountain and Australasian Pipits.  It seems to have fairly specific habitat requirements in Malaysia - I only encountered them at one sandy-grassland site on reclaimed land on Malacca, and as with meadow pipits in the UK, stuck to open spaces.

Related Species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Motacillidae
Genus: Anthus
SUBSPECIES: A. r. rufulus, A. r. waitei, A. r. malayensis, A. r. lugubris, A. r. albidus, A. r. medius

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A locally common resident
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: Several pairs seen near the shorefront in Malacca

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, WikipediaXeno-Canto .

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans)

OTHER NAMES: Pink-necked Pigeon
Latin Etymology: Treron ("timid/dove") vernans ("blossoming")

Four Adult Male Pink-necked Green Pigeon (Treron vernans) at Malacca, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Punai Gading ("Ivory Pigeon")
Weight: 105-160g
Length: 25cm
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern 

A fairly common species found throughout much of South East Asia, the Pink-necked Pigeon is an arboreal species best found in the tops of trees.   They are the only green pigeon in much of its range to be found in urban environments, including as in this case, the centers of fairly large cities.  The colouration is distinctive in the males though can be confused with the similar Orange-breasted Pigeon while the females are a much more uniform green which requires a closer inspection to be sure of.

Related Species:
Order: Columbiformes
Family: Columbidae
Genus: Treron
SUBSPECIES: none - monotypic* 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A locally common resident
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: A single flock of around 15-20 birds feeding in central Malacca

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, 

*This is an unusual case - there are up to eight subspecies of the Pink-necked Green Pigeon described, but none have been accepted by the usual major authorities. .

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Blue-throated Bee-eater (Merops viridis)

OTHER NAMES: Common Indian Bee-eater
Latin Etymology: Merops ("bee-eater") viridis ("green")

Adult Blue-throated Bee-eater (subspecies M. v. viridis) in Malacca, Malaysia - July 2016

Local Name (Malay): Beberek Leher Biru ("Blue-neck Bee-eater")
Featured Subspecies: Merops viridis viridis
Weight: 34-41g
Length: 21cm +9cm for tail streamers
Wingspan: ?
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Blue-throated Bee-eater is a fairly typical member of it's family in many ways, but unlike Europe with it's single species, it shares Malaysia with two others.  Most notably, perhaps is how it alternates with another species of Bee-eater - the Blue-tailed - in it's migration pattern - the Blue-tail arrives as the Blue-throated leaves and vise versa.  It is also unusual in that they are one of the few migrants to breed in Malaysia - normally it destination for species travelling to warmer climes away from their breeding grounds.  I found them to be a bit less gregarious and a lot quieter than European Bee-eater, making them a bit trickier to locate.

Related Species:
Order: Coraciiformes
Family: Meropidae
Genus: Merops
SUBSPECIES: M. v. viridis, M. v. americanus 

 - Sighting Locations -
MALAYSIA - A fairly common Summer migrant
 - MALAYSIA/SINGAPORE 2016 TRIP: Seen in small numbers on several days in both Kuala Lumpur and Malacca

Further Notes: Arkive, BirdForum OpusBirdGuidesIUCN Red ListRSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto .