martes, 13 de enero de 2015

Squacco Heron

 Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

My last sighting of Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) on La Palma was back in May 2012, and in April 2011 two birds were present simultaneously. The species can be regarded as a fairly regular passage migrant to the Canaries, with records from all main islands, except El Hierro.

All my Squacco sightings to date, including the present bird, have been at irrigation ponds in Tazacorte, typical locations at which other migratory Ardeidae also turn up, usually during the first part of the year, rather than in autumn.

 Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides)

Observing conditions were far from ideal this evening (Jan 13), as the bird was discovered in failing light, some distance away from the only feasible access point, and partly concealed by vegetation. The present images were captured at ISO 800, 1/100 second, and leave a lot to be desired, photographically speaking. At the same location there were about 30 Little Egrets (Egretta garzetta) and two Cattle Egrets (Bubulcus ibis), which were presumably planning to roost in the surrounding bushes. The pond is also home to several Moorhens (Gallinula chloropus), one of which can be seen in the first photo above.

At the irrigation ponds in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane), a couple of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) have provided a little interest in what is otherwise a fairly slack period for migrants.

Resident species are not often featured in La Palma Birds, so to redress the balance slightly, below are two shots of a leucistic Blackbird (Turdus merula) encountered in Tijarafe recently. I have seen similar individuals elsewhere on the island, such as in the laurel forest of Los Tilos.

Leucism is by no means a rare occurrence in birds, but can vary in extent from affecting just a few head feathers, as in the present specimen, to producing completely white individuals. Blackbirds seem to be particularly prone to this condition, but always retain their normal, dark eyes, whereas true albinos have red eyes .

 Leucistic Blackbird (Turdus merula)

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