13 February 2012

REGUA photos on Flickr

Blue Manakin (Chiroxiphia caudata)Rufous-bellied Thrush (Turdus rufiventris)White-bellied Tanager (Tangara brasiliensis)White-throated Spadebill (Platyrinchus mystaceus)Tropical Pewee (Contopus cinereus)Black-capped Screech-owl (Megascops atricapilla)
Swallow-tailed Hummingbird (Campylopterus macrourus)Swallow-tailed Hummingbird (Campylopterus macrourus)Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia)Tawny-browed Owl (Pulsatrix koeniswaldiana)Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza)Guira Cuckoo (Guira guira)
Scaled Antbird (Drymophila squamata)Greenish Elaenia (Myiopagis viridicata)White-faced Whistling-duck (Dendrocygna viduata)Giant Snipe (Gallinago undulata)Black Jacobin (Florisuga fusca)White-chinned Sapphire (Hylocharis cyanus)

REGUA, Brazil, a set on Flickr.

Many of the photos that I've taken at REGUA over the last few years I've posted on my blog, but I've never had a gallery of my REGUA images online. Therefore I've set up a REGUA photo set on my Flickr account where all my best REGUA photos, and those taken before I started this blog, can be viewed. If you would like to take a look then please click on the link above.

10 February 2012

An excellent winter's day at the patch

A few inches of snow overnight produced a good haul of birds displaced by the hard weather at Staines Moor today. Frustratingly I only had a compact digital camera on me and not my SLR and so I missed out on some decent photographic opportunities.

The narrow muddy edges of the River Colne are proving very attractive for birds looking for unfrozen ground on which to feed, and a walk along the whole stretch of the river at the moor produced 1 male and 1 female Pintail briefly before flying off east, 2 Dunlin, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2+ Common Snipe, 3 Water Pipit, 1 Water Rail, 1 Little Egret, 3 Gadwall, 2 Common Teal, 3 Little Grebe, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Common Gull and 60+ Black-headed Gull (a good count here). Overhead there was a little movement with 59+ Northern Lapwing NE, 1 Common Buzzard N, 30 Lesser Black-backed Gull E and small numbers of Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Linnet.

Adjacent Stanwell Moor produced 1 Woodcock (flushed along the footpath between Stanwell Moor and King George VI Reservoir), c.180 Linnet feeding on the seeds of London Plane trees with smaller numbers of Goldfinch and Chaffinch, 17 Fieldfare, 8 Redwing, lots of Robin and Blackbird, a single Skylark over S, 1 Meadow Pipit, 1 Sparrowhawk, 4 more Gadwall, 1 more Common Teal and a Red Fox. Back at the car, a Little Egret on a tiny stream in Stanwell Moor Village looked very out of place.

Male Pintail on the bank of the River Colne briefly before flying off East with a female

A frozen Staines Moor, looking south from The Butts. It's hard to imagine that
in 4-5 weeks time the first Northern Wheatears could be passing through here.

Looking north along Bonehead Ditch

5 February 2012

Out of range Cinereous Ground-tyrant

It's always nice to find a surprise while sorting through old photos. I've been looking through hundreds of photos from a year travelling around South America in 2006, and came across a whole bunch of images of ground-tyrants (terrestrial tyrant-flycatchers - think of flycatchers that look and behave like wheatears) taken during a memorable day watching Andean Condors up at 1950 metres in the Argentine Andes, at the ski resort of Cerro Catedral in Nahuel Huapi National Park. The most common species here was White-browed Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola albilora followed by Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola flavinucha, but I also found several images taken of a very different looking bird that I couldn't put a name to at the time and intended to identify at a later date. Well, better late than never!

The most striking thing about this bird is how plain it looks, being uniform grey above with brownish black wings and tail and plain whitish grey below. The lack of either a rufous or ochre crown patch (found in the other species found in this area), very faint pale grey supercilium, plain grey forehead and fine bill suggest Cinereous Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola cinereus, but Cerro Catedral is well outside the range of this species. Juvenile Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant usually have no ochre occipital patch and would therefore look similar, but this species can be ruled out by its larger size, white forehead, lores and supercilium, and much longer primaries that almost reach the tip of the tail. This bird was also sticking to the rocky boulders near the top of the ridge rather than grassy areas slightly lower down preferred by the other species.

Cinereous Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola cinereus, Cerro Catedral, Nahuel Huapi
National Park, Argentina, November 2006. This bird was about 470 km south of
the most southerly limit of it's range. Is this simply an overshooting spring
migrant or are they extending their range southwards?

White-browed Ground-tyrant Muscisaxicola albilora, Cerro Catedral, Nahuel
Huapi National Park, Argentina, November 2006. The most common species here.
Note the diffuse rufous crown, which is brown in juveniles, the bold white
supercilium and the longer heavier looking bill.

Ochre-naped Ground-Tyrant Muscisaxicola flavinucha, Cerro Catedral, Nahuel
Huapi National Park, Argentina, November 2006. The ochre occipital patch is often
absent in juveniles. Note the heavy build, white forehead, lores and supercilum,
and the length of the primaries.

There are 13 species of ground-tyrant, all restricted to the Andes and Tierra del Fuego (mostly at high altitudes) and some are highly migratory. Four species breed in this part of the Andes, but Cinereous Ground-tyrant breeds from southern Peru to central Argentina, as far as 37° S, and so this bird was roughly 470 km south of it's known range. They are migratory at the southern end of their range and so this is probably an overshooting spring migrant. However, Ridgely and Tudor (1994) show this species' range lying another 500 km further north than more recent texts, so either the distribution of this species is now better known, or they are spreading southwards as the Andes becomes warmer. Perhaps this record represents a range extension? It's such a shame I didn't look for any other birds at the time.