Monday, March 27, 2017

Female Wigeon sp

Popped down to Orgreave last Sunday (19th March 2017) and picked up this interesting looking female Wigeon, contrasting grey head/orange flanks, black lip round bill and black tertials. Knew photo of axillaries was key so got some video and it kindly flew, rather grey looking axillaires with quite a bit of barring, not an American then?!

Bit more research and decided to go back today 27th March 2017 and the bird is still present, got further pics and this bird hits plenty of features for both species.

Some good websites I found on this subject

Pro-Eurasian features

- Very pale outermost secondary (not pure white but very very pale grey) (grey in Yank)
-quite a bit of barring on pale grey axillaries (seemingly quite pale for most Eurasian) (pure white in Yank)
-very clean pale chin (mottled and not contrasting in Yank)

Pro-American features

-black outerweb of tertials with nice good white edges (brown in Euro with thinner white edges or no white edging)
-black spotting on breast (variable, plainer in Euro)
-Pale/white bases to greater coverts with dark tip (reversed in Euro, dark base with pale tip)
-black lip coming round lower mandible (cited as diagnostic of American on several websites) (absent in Euro, although search of photos seems to suggest otherwise)
-Overall grey head with clear contrast/cut off at start of flank into orange (more uniform brown wash throughout in Euro)
-at times darker mask apparent behind eye (less contrast in Euro)
-Pale eyelid (needs further research apparently, dark in Euro)
-rufous fringes to scaps (variable, greyer in Euro)

Surely with so many Pro-Yankee features it's gotta have some American blood in it somewhere? Surely can't be just variation in Euro? Easier to say Wigeon sp.

Although as a great man once said ''Never underestimate the extent of natural variation!'' Always learning! So this bird doesn't fit nicely into an American box, but does it fit into a European box? Does it have to? It's got mixed features, but does that put it in a hybrid box? Don't think this bird will go in a box for now....

''It is a feature of human nature to 'fear' chaos and to arrange what is around us into some sort of order. In this process we may tend to do some 'wishful grouping', to oversimplify and to define categories which do not really exist in nature. This often leads to premature conclusions based on too small samples, or to identification keys which are simple to read but which are inaccurate or at least misleading''

Wise words indeed.

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