02 September 2009

Shelduck epic

More shelduck fun in the offing. Thanks to Keith Noble in Breconshire, the story rumbles on; Keith sent through a few photos of two birds that were seen at Brechfa Pool and Llangorse Lake in late April and June. Are these the recent Gwent birds?

The bird on the left appears to be a female Cape Shelduck although, my barely controllable hybrid inspired paranoia, does make me worry about one or two features, e.g. the hint of a pale collar. The bird on the right I do wonder about, it looks mostly Australian, however, I can't find any other photos of Australians with pale undertail coverts, whether this is due to immaturity (which might explain the general dullness and lack of collar), or hybridisation, or a combination of factors, I'm not 100% sure but I can't help erring towards hybrid.

I do wonder whether the female might be mostly Cape with a touch of Australian; and the male mostly Australian with a slightly heavier touch of Cape. Could Paradise be involved as well? Or has my paranoia just got the better of me? All comments gratefully received, especially from those who; a. are sat next to HBW volume 1; or b. saw the hybrid pair (and their offspring) that used to breed at QEII Res, Surrey (one bird was a Cape and the other was a hybrid, either Cape x Paradise, or Australian x Paradise); or c. are lucky enough to wander round WWT centres on a regular basis.

Just to add another layer of intrigue, if you go to Birdguides then 'pictures' then select 'Shelduck, Cape' from the species search menu (of which there are 19 piccies) look at the two pictures of three birds taken at Wyver Lane DWT, Derbyshire on 20th August last year. Despite the differences in colour production, that male looks rather odd and slightly familiar. Anyhoo, I'm off to lay down in a darkened room.

All photos supplied by Keith Noble.

PS. Promise this is the last of it - for a possible hybrid Cape x Ruddy click here,... wibble.


Darryl said...

Might be nearer to explaining the appearance of the Breconshire birds. Given how similar they look to the Derbyshire birds on Birdguides, and to the birds in this pic http://www.flickr.com/photos/7604376@N07/3314638794/ from Brandon Marsh (near Coventry) in February, I'm tempted to assume they are the same individuals, and one's hybrid paranoia appears to have been proved correct again. Of course, the exact parenthood is probably unknowable but could involve any one of Cape, Australian, Paradise or Ruddy (or
any combination thereof).

PS. Apparently these are not the recent birds from Gwentland.

Hadyn said...

The one I've seen closely,after much thought,is a Ruddy / Cape Slelduck cross with a small dappling of Australian in it because,although I tried to ignore the fact, there was a probable slight pale ring around it's neck just about discernible(I think!). The grey head and neck was also slightly darker than it should have been for a Cape Shelduck. The body colouration was Ruddy Shelduck. So there you have it 3/6ths Ruddy, 2/6ths Cape and 1/6th Australian.Also it may have been a juvenile judging by the white markings around it's bill base and eye. But what do I know?

Darryl said...

It's definitely a case of 'the more you know, the less certain you are'; a 'Zen and the art of wildfowl hybridisation' approach is required :-)

Anonymous said...

Get over it lads , who gives a shite

Darryl said...

Well, yes, that would be the alternative approach; the 'pithy yet degenerate' approach to bird identification.

You can't go knocking hybrids, on some days they are the only speck of light in the ornithological cosmic blank spot that is Gwentcestershire.