Sunday, 17 April 2016

Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio)

OTHER NAMES: Purple Gallinule, European Swamphen, Western Swamphen
Latin Etymology: Porphyrio ("water hen") porphyrio ("water hen")
                                            Western Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrioat Laguna Navaseca, Spain - April 2016

Featured Subspecies: N/A
Weight: 725-870g  /  Length: 38-50cm  /  Wingspan: 90-100cm
ABSENT FROM UK IUCN Red List: Least Concern*

A huge, distinctively coloured rail which in Europe is almost entirely found only in Iberia, with a good look at this species, it's unmistakable with it's indigo plumage and bright red beak and legs.  It is however, impressively secretive species for it's bulk, only emerging briefly.  It's also part way through a taxonomic split that makes it's identity a bit more elaborate.  Originally regarded as a single species - the Purple Gallinule/Purple Swamphen across it's range, the European/North African population is now though to represent the earliest divergent lineage of a species that divided by successive waves of expansion with enough gap in between to create new species each time.  My main feeling on this matter is that really the Western Swamphen is far too dry a name for a huge dopey looking purple bird, and thus it's a shame to lose the name Purple Swamphen.

Related Species:
Order: Gruiformes
Family: Rallidae
Genus: Porphyrio
Subspecies: none - monotypic

 - Sighting Locations -
SPAIN - Spanish Calamón 
Scarce and Local Resident
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: One at Laguna Navaseca and abundant at Arrocampo (good number seen and heard)

Further Notes: 
BirdForum Opus, IUCN Red List*RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto

* The Purple Swamphen is a species in a partial stage of recognition of a major set of splits - the websites marked with an asterisk regard it as a single species, the others as split into various species across the range of "the Purple Swamphen".

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