Thursday 18 November 2010

Phalarope identification

Grey Phalarope
Red-necked Phalarope
Earlier this month, a Red-necked Phalarope was seen at Ardnave. It was initially identified as a Grey Phalarope, which was in fact much more likely, as that species is quite regular here whereas there are only a handful of records of Red-necked. But it was no shame on the observer, because the two species are really quite similar at this time of year. Here is Carl's photograph of the Grey Phalarope seen this week on Loch Indaal, with a photo of a Red-necked for comparison. The most striking difference is in the thickness of the bill - that of the Red-necked is rightly described as "needle-like". Other salient features are the stripes on the back of the Red-necked compared with the even colouring of the Grey, its small white forehead with no white extending on to the top of the head, and a rather larger eyestripe. Note, though, that there is some variation in these last two. So, next time you see a phalarope in winter plumage, concentrate on the shape of the bill and the colouring of the back!


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