Jump to content
michael-ibk

Michael´s Fifth Year

Recommended Posts

michael-ibk
Posted (edited)

Ok, here we go for my fifth try with this. My travel plans won´t allow to break my previous records but I do have Tanzania, the Faroes and Chile in the mix. Of course I will also try to sneak in some work-related trips to nice birding corners of Europe. So hope to crack 500 again. And would be nice to get some of the very tricky local (Caipercaillie, Hazel Grouse, White-Backed and Three-Toed Woodpecker, most of the Owls) lifers - we´ll see.

 

1/E1.) (Eurasian) Nuthatch (Sitta europaea) / Kleiber

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 1/1/20. Subspecies caesia here in Continental Europe, the same as in the UK. I have read a bit about species and subspecies over Christmas (got some nice birding books), and was quite surprised to see that there is no clear scientific consensus on the definition of each. Svenson/Shirihai (Handbook of Western Palearctic Birds, a huge compendium with lots of great pictures) apply four criteria: Morphological distinctness (ie. unique looks), living in biological segregation (no or little hybridisation between similar species), different vocalisations and genetic difference although only the first two are compulsory. They define subspecies by the so-called 75% rule, meaning that at least 3/4 of a sample of inidviduals must differ from other described subspecies of the same species. Even with that comparatively conservative approach they identify 10 Nuthatch subspecies, from Northern Africa (Atlas) to Eastern Asia (Asiatica).

 

I always enjoy researching the scientific names, so I will probably bore you a bit with related trivia this year. "Sitta" is derived from the Ancient Greek name for this bird. "Nuthatch", first recorded in 1350, is derived from "nut" and a word probably related to "hack", since these birds hack at nuts they have wedged into crevices. (From Wiki).

 

 

Gaisau_35_Kleiber.JPG.9d915b897c585d2aeb24cc20f23472ba.JPG

 

 

 

 

Edited by michael-ibk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

Good to see you in again, and a beautiful bird to start. I find the scientific names fascinating so keep it up!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

2/E2.) (European) Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) / Blaumeise

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 1/1/20. Surely one of Europe´s most beautiful birds. The name Cyanistes comes from the classical Greek kuanos meaning dark-blue, and caeruleus is Latin and also means blue.  So a Blue Tit is a "Dark-Blue Blueling.":)

 

Subspecies caeruleus here. In the UK it´s obscurus (only subtle differences, slightly smaller and duller), @pedro maia gets oligastrae (blue a bit darker).

 

 

Gaisau_24_Blaumeise.JPG.d7d8fe4497e6c969e7edce42a9b4a50b.JPG

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
mvecht

@michael-ibk   great shot with superb lighting.  Maybe I will have to wait until I get a better photo. My shot from January 1st was through a dirty window in poor lighting.

Subspecies can be tricky but also fun. I should be able to get two different subspecies of Nuthatch this year with  caesia being one and  europaea with much lighter breast colour being the other. In Denmark there is a fairly strict west/East dividing line between the two as they dont move much. This also means that the species is absent from many islands in Denmark.

I have also already taken some photos of Bullfinch and again we get two subspecies in Denmark so I might wait and try to present both species at the same time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

Ok, maybe we could get at least half a point for a different subspecies? :D

 

3/E3.) Great Tit (Parus Major) / Kohlmeise

 

Gaisau, Inzing/Tirol, 1/1/20. Not all scientific names mean something beyond the name of the animals. Tits always were familiar to man, so were apparently named very early - Parus simply means Tit. Major is self-explanatory. Seven subspecies in the Western Palearctic, we have major, the UK gets newtoni (only subtle differences, a bit greener, yellow-tinged instead of white edges in some wing feathers).

 

A male here - the broad and unbroken black ventral (breast) band enables relatively easy sexing.

 

Gaisau_21_Kohlmeise.JPG.389b0bdc2884a13eb7c9c80c77c4ab3c.JPG

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

4/E4.) Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris) / Sumpfmeise

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 1/1/20. The twin bird of the Willow Tit, but the differences are clearly visible with this individuum. Note the brownish "comma" on the cheek, one of the (few) good fieldmarks to tell the two species apart. The name Poecile is from Ancient Greek poikilos "colourful" - does not make a lot of sense IMO, most members of the genus are pretty dull. Palustris means "living in the marsh". Actually the Marsh Tit is not necessarily bound to water or marshes so the name is misleading. But the name was given at a time when Marsh and Willow were not yet separated as species (that only happened in the 19th century), and Willow is much more fond of wet environments. Again, the UK gets a different subspecies (dresseri) from our palustris, which is a bit less browner below.

 

Gaisau_50_Sumpfmeise.JPG.01ca73c04a2e8088da495ffedf788db6.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

5/E5.) (Eurasian) Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes) / Zaunkönig

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 1/1/20. The Pipsqueak with the incredibly loud voice! One of my favourite scientific names, it means "Cavedweller" (ancient Greek again). Not because they really are. Wiki states the wrens get their scientific name from the tendency of some species to forage in dark crevices. A German bird book about bird names rather states that their dome-shaped small nests could be considered caves. Again two different subspecies in the UK, borealis and hirtensis (St. Kilda Island in Stotland).

 

 

Gaisau_53_Zaunkönig.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

6/E6.) Common Raven (Corvus corax) / Kolkrabe

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 1/1/20. I´m complaining about this every year - I find it really tricky to separate these birds from Crows in the fields. Adding insult to injury also my new Handbook states "unmistakable". The scientific name is not much fun - Corvus is the Latin word for Raven, and corax Greek for Raven or Crow. The same subspecies over most of Europe, but I might find a different (slightly larger) one on the Faroes apparently.

 

Gaisau_62_Kolkrabe.JPG.2f9677dbb65f2d9ea7daccfd0561831c.JPG

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Galana

Nice start @michael-ibk

Particularly interested in your differentiation of UK and Euro subspecies. (It may get worse after 1st Feb :o)

 

As to Carrion Crow v Raven my modus is look at the planform. Raven is much more crucifix with thr longer neck and head in addition to the tail which has a slight hint of lozenge shape much like a miniature Lammergeir.

Better still if they call of course.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xelas

You have started this year at the crack of the dawn, @michael-ibk! I can see we will be posting many of the same birds in next days ;).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

Crucifix is helpful indeed Fred. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pedro maia

I’m going to get myself a few tits tomorrow :lol:.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PeterHG

What a fascinating start to the new year, Michael. Your interesting stories about name origin, species and subspecies would almost distract one from the fact that they are all great pictures!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Kitsafari

well a titillating start to your Big Year! such beautiful tits - each time I see any photo of the tits put up by yourself and the others, I wish they would migrate over here too. 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

7/E7.) (European) Robin (Erithacus rubecalus) / Rotkehlchen

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 5/1. One of Europe´s most popular birds for sure, well-known to non-birders. Often said to be famous for its boldness but that´s not really the case here in Austria. It´s not a terribly tricky bird to get of course but certainly not as easy as a Blackbird or Great Tit. So I wonder if the UK subspecies (yes, again you get a different one) might just be bolder than our Continental (nominate) one. It´s melophilus in the UK, with slightly darker and browner upperparts, and often a little darker orange-rufous on face and breast. "Erithacus" is an ancient Greek name for a bird (probably already referring to Robin back then since "erythròs" means red), "rubecula" means "Redthroat".

 

Gaisau_131_Rotkehlchen.JPG.599c74e0a30cd61bbe96b5e2f466a3eb.JPG

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk
Posted (edited)

8/E8.) Short-Toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) / Gartenbaumläufer

 

Gaisau, Tirol/Austria, 5/1. "Certhia" is ancient Greek for Treecreepers, and "brachydactyla" means "with short toes". One of Continental Europe´s ID nightmares because this bird looks almost identical to its twin - the Eurasian Treecreeper. Easier for our UK members - you don´t have the Short-Toed. While there are some fieldmarks all books state that these are variable, not 100 % reliable and some individuals might not be safely separable in the field.

 

I think I saw at least two individuals today, and am fairly but not completely sure all were Short-Toed - none were vocalizing, and that´s really the only way to be sure which species one is dealing with.

 

1743518121_Gaisau_104_Gartenbaumlufer.JPG.7b2bd6f95ac33ae059949680f9bec51c.JPG

 

An unusual posture for a Treecreeper - normally it´s seen clinging to the bark of a tree. To our ID marks:

 

1) Bill slightly longer and more decurved than in Eurasian. Looking good for this one.

2) Fairly even "steps" in buff wing bar, whereas Eurasian has quite an abrupt change between two of the primary feathers, so more of an "L-Look". Really not helpul with this bird, since the pattern looks almost Eurasian-like. A bit better in this one:

 

1587672310_Gaisau_91_Gartenbaumlufer.JPG.2f169467ecb25d6ca406c0076678d366.JPG

 

3) Short-Toed Treecreepers have (unsurprisingly) shorter toes (although this one is kinda longish).

4) The Alula has a thin white edge along the whole feather (always interrupted in Eurasian).

5) The flanks of Short-Toed are often more brownish - but unfortunatey our subspecies of Eurasian can also be pretty brown-tinged on occasion.

6) The supercilium in Short-Toed is often less white and prominent than in Eurasian - but that´s not very reliable (again especially with our less distinctly marked subspecies of Eurasian). The first photo shows this quite well but the second one has a clearly longer one.

 

In case you are wondering what I am talking about concerning 2) and 4) this might help:

 

1065184238_Gaisau_91_GartenbaumluferMarks.JPG.242f8c08f187d16e14543a79c72095c6.JPG

 

Note this bird which has a clearly shorter, very indistinct (and thereby classic Short-Toed-like) supercilium.

 

1679432477_Gaisau_120_Gartenbaumlufer.JPG.c9e1ae91065cdf8e494e52266bf36b44.JPG

 

7) In general Short-Toeds are less obviously white-spotted on the upperparts than Eurasians.

8) The pale primary-tips are whiter, smaller and "bolder" than Eurasians.

 

1907758489_Gaisau_106_GartenbaumluferMarks.JPG.ec20ac394e1fd1ca54cb2713e364f1c9.JPG

 

And there´s also apparently something about the "spacing" of the inner primaries but I don´t find that very helpful even when looking at pictures.

 

Treecreeper 101 finished!

 

Edited by michael-ibk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
xelas

Now I know whom to send a photo of one, if I will be lucky enough to get it!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

A masterclass in Treecreeper identification!

As you say it is much easier for us. If we see a treecreeper, then it is a Treecreeper:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PeterHG

Thank you, Michael for your detailed treecreeper manual! I'll certainly take a closer look at them this year

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
pedro maia

We only have the Short-toed Treecreeper, but in Portuguese the Nuthatch is called Blue Treecreeper Trepadeira Azul).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk
Posted (edited)

9/E9.) White aka Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba) / Bachstelze

 

Münster, Tirol/Austria, 7/1/20. Most of our birds leave Austria in Winter but a substantial flock seems to have a suitable place here to get through the cold - compost works near the motorway. "Motacilla" means "moving tail" (motare for moving, cilla for birdtail), "alba" is white, so the English name is a straight translation. This is probably a first Winter bird (cap grey, not black). Again a different subspecies in the UK, but one notably different - the upperparts are much darker, hence it´s the "Pied Wagtail" and not the "White" (as in Continental Europe).

 

1985420461_Mnster_1_Bachstelze.JPG.d5cf4684e827c507b3859e4d3241c790.JPG

Edited by michael-ibk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

10/E10.) Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra) / Blässhuhn

 

Chiemsee/Germany, 6/1. The scientific name means "Nobody´s favourite". :P

Kidding - Fulicula is an ancient Latin name for Waterfowl, ater/atra is black.

 

1256884194_Seebruck_11_Blsshuhn.JPG.e1470d2986175f1603d2502ad8f280f2.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

11/E11.) Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) / Gänsesäger

 

Chiemsee/Germany, 6/1. "Mergus" is the "Diver", and "merganser" a blend of "Mergus" and "Anser" - Diving Duck.

 

22655283_FeldwieserBucht_25_Gnsesger.JPG.3c8078de8faf5409e0f3b7ab1f7f69ed.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
michael-ibk

12/E12.) Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata) / Großer Brachvogel

 

Chiemsee/Germany, 6/1. One of the very few Waders in Winter. Most birds migrate to the coasts of Europe in the cold season, but some stick around some big lakes. A relatively new development - climate change probably. "Numenius" roughly translates to "New Moon" (referencing the curved bill), and "arquata" stems from "Arcus" (Ark) for the same reason.

 

 

Irschener Winkel_14_Großer Brachvogel.JPG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
TonyQ

Beautiful additions @michael-ibk

Is the German. Gänsesäger similar to our traditional name of Goosander

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Safaritalk uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By using Safaritalk you agree to our use of cookies. If you wish to refuse the setting of cookies you can change settings on your browser to clear and block cookies. However, by doing so, Safaritalk may not work properly and you may not be able to access all areas. If you are happy to accept cookies and haven't adjusted browser settings to refuse cookies, Safaritalk will issue cookies when you log on to our site. Please also take a moment to read the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy: Terms of Use l Privacy Policy