The unsound approach

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Quiz answers

Posted on December 26, 2008 at 1:12 PM

Having opened up the quiz to the skilled readers of the Surfbirds Forum, we were inundated with entries from the great and the good, and as the one with the chin would say, "didn't they do well...".

Bird 1 was an immature Pine Warbler, photographed on Bon Portage Island in October 2002, it managed to fool a few people by sitting up like an Empid but structurally it has Dendroica written all over it and once you realise this, the identification is relatively straightfoward. A picture of an adult, photographed on the same day appears below, part of an unprecedented arrival of Pine Warblers on BP.

Bird 2 was supposed to be unidentifiable, but was outrageously pinned on the first attempt as  Grey-necked Bunting, a 1st winter photographed at Nanaj, Maharashtra, India in February 2003. Another image appears of the same bird appears below, photo-quality is ultra-poor but on both images you can make out the virtually unstreaked hind neck and upper-back which rule out Ortolan and Cretz.   

Bird 3 is a Marbled Godwit photographed at Bolsa Chica, California in January 2003, once you consider species not on the WP list, arriving at this identification is a little more straightfoward, although eliminating Long-billed Curlew on jizz is an important step. Marbled Godwit has potentially a similar vagrancy potential to Willet, which has already straggled across to Europe a few times, another photo of the same bird appears below.     

Bird 4 is hard. Ostensibly its a Lanner as it was photographed south of Agadir, Morocco in March 2006. Vagrant Sakers do occasionally show up in Morocco and I took pics of this bird as it appeared to be very Saker-ish. Separating 1st years of Lanner and Saker is extremely difficult and is dealt with at length in Harris et al. 1996. In so far as I can see, the best pro-Lanner points for this bird are 1) narrower buffier supercilium 2) bold dark moustache fully-connected to the eye-stripe and 3) more evenly distributed and dense streaking on the breast. Separation from Prairie Falcon is something of an unknown quantity but isn't the moustache on PF even broader than Lanner? 

Bird 5. I guess this was pretty straightfoward, a Lesser Short-toed Lark photographed in the Western Sahara in March 2006, I thought the state of wear might fox a few folk but everyone is too on-the-ball for that.... 

(images all AL)

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