martes, 27 de octubre de 2015

Blue-winged Teal 2

 Three brown ducks, from left to right: Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)

The female Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), first seen on Oct 24, was found at a different irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane) this morning, accompanied by an eclipse male Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) and a female Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca). The conditions for photography at this new location were better than on the previous occasion.

 Female Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

The suspicion that the previously-mentioned Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca) might in fact be a Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis) has naturally crossed my mind. The females of both species can apparently be separated in the field but so far, I have been unable to appreciate the subtle differentiating features.

Circumstantial evidence includes the fact that both the Blue-winged Teal and the other possible American species appeared on the island roughly at the same time, and seem to have formed a partnership bond over the last few days, foraging, roosting and moving from pond to pond together. Another persuasive argument in favour of Anas carolinensis is the fact that Eurasian Teals (A. crecca) tend to reach La Palma in small flocks, rather than as solitary birds.

Further observations are required.

domingo, 25 de octubre de 2015

Blue-winged Teal

 Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors), female.

The Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) is the second most recorded American duck on the Canaries, with a total of 21 records approved by early 2012. It is a very long-distance migrant which breeds in Northern USA and winters from Central to South America ("Rare Birds of the Canary Islands", E. García-del-Rey and F. J. García Vargas).  The present individual was first glimpsed in flight on Oct 24, just after it had been flushed from an irrigation pond in Las Martelas (Los Llanos de Aridane) by a passing dog-walker.

 Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) with Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)

I returned to the area this afternoon (Oct 25) and found the bird in the same irrigation pond, together with 1 x Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago), 1 x Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola), and 1 x Greenshank (Tringa nebularia). The pond is surrounded by a wire mesh fence, through which the "washed out" photographs shown here were taken; it will be difficult to improve on the quality of the images at this location.

This is my second female  Blue-winged Teal on La Palma, the previous sighting dating from Nov 2011.

Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)

The present record will be submitted to the Spanish Rarities Committee in due course.

martes, 6 de octubre de 2015

Yellow or Citrine(?) Wagtail

First winter Wagtail, seen at the saltpans in Fuencaliente

A tricky one. This first winter Wagtail was found at the saltpans in Fuencaliente on Sep 12. My first impression (and hope!) was that this bird could be a Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola). The two broad white wingbars are very contrasting, there appears to be a pale border around the cheeks, and there is no hint of yellow anywhere in the plumage, not even near the vent.

The upperparts are entirely grey, with no hint of olive tones; the lores are pale rather than dark.

But (and this is a big one), the lower mandible of the bird's bill is pale: in Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola), the bill should be all dark. (Martin Garner's blog "Birding Frontiers" does mention the existence of Citrine Wagtails with pale-based bills, however).

The overall shape of the bird, which has a shortish tail (not long enough for Citrine), plus its observed "run-picking" feeding technique point towards Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava), rather than Citrine (M. citreola). So, I'm staying with that verdict.

Not quite sure how to interpret the blotches on the bird's breast, visible in the above image.

Second opinions are always welcome: any comments helping to confirm this bird's identity will be greatly appreciated.

So far (Oct 25), all expert opinion received has favoured Citrine (M. citreola), rather than Yellow Wagtail (M. flava).