Thursday, 26 May 2011

Tanagers and Mystery Revealed

The highlight of my day working from home, came in the form of a female western tanager in an arbutus, as seen from my kitchen window around 1pm. She sat there quite happily for some time but was spooked by 'castle' seeking tourists before I was able to get a pic. Oh well, not a bad addition to my kitchen list.
A late wander around the Government House grounds proved pretty fruitless. If that rain does move in overnight, I'm going to head over to Mount Tolmie bright and early tomorrow just to see what's to be seen...

It's a Mystery...

Can you tell what it is yet?
So, given the relative lack of news, I'll do the old mystery bird thing.
If you can cast your mind back, it was grainy shot of a duck. Given the 4 options, only 2 species attracted votes.
Therefore, we can ignore mallard and wood duck as no-one was even remotely tempted to choose either.
So, we're left with ruddy duck and shoveler.
The former garnered some 11 votes - accounting for 17% of the total.
The latter species was the clear front runner and got a whopping 51 votes in favour of it being that spatula-billed anas.
So, what convinced so many of its identity as a shoveler?
The rufousy flanks could suggest either species, but at any age and stage of moult would a ruddy duck ever show a white, or very pale breast? And how about the dark mantle? Could an eclipse drake ruddy show such demarcation between flanks and uperparts?

Here's one I prepared earlier...
One can see a hint of a pale area around the base of the bill, but anywhere enough to imply the extensive white cheeks of ruddy? Structurally, it doesn't really look like a stifftial, but photographs can, admittedly, be deceptive. But that tail is neither low on the water or raised - again more suggestive of shoveler. Finally, and perhaps most crucially - that bill! It looks pretty huge and distinctively spatula-shaped - further confirming the birds identity as a northern shoveler.
As always, please feel free to argue with my reasoning, or add any other obvious pointers that I have omitted.      
And, don't forget to have a go at the current one on the right...

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