Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor)

OTHER NAMES: N/A
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 OpusIUCN Red List, RSPB, Wikipedia, Xeno-canto

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