Thursday, March 30, 2017

Recent rambling

Last few weeks have been really busy but not really with birds. At least not living birds. Last week I spent a few days in Frankfurt - my 97 yo grandmother Helene had passed away. May she rest in peace - she was a brave and strong woman. She had a tough life, that included surviving WW2 and starting new lives in too many countries,; her strong character and will is truly inspiring to my family. Here she is with her brother Hermann in 1932, when she was 13:

While organising her funeral, I found some time to go with my brother to Senckenberg Museum of Natural History. When I last visited there in July 2016 I discovered a potentially interesting wheatear. I did not take full measurements back then, so this time I took the full biometric set. Hopefully soon its identity will be determined.

Black Wheatear (top) and mystery wheatear (bottom)

I took the opportunity to look at some more nightjars. I am involved in a large nightjar phylogeny project with Prof. Martin Collinson from University of Aberdeen. One of the things we want to check is Red-necked Nightjar phylogeny. The two subspecies - ruficollis (Iberia) and desertorum (N Africa) look strikingly different, and possibly have different vocalisations too.  This is a simplistic morphological comparison - males, ruficollis (left two) and desertorum (right two):

The last few days have been all about Champions of the Flyway. Sadly, I could not go this year, but did my best to support the project from here. It was yet again a fantastic race and event, well done to the organisers, teams, donors and supporters worldwide.


Yesterday morning I had a frustrating experience. After schoolrun I walked with my dog in Heigham Park that is near our house. I heard from the bottom of the park a 'funny' Chiffchaff song - 3-4 sequences. The soft initial notes sounded good for Iberian Chiff, but I couldn't hear the terminal trill from that distance. I approached the bird and got my phone ready to sound record, but it went silent and I did not see or hear it again. Eventually, I cannot exclude a 'funny' normal Chiffchaff, so will leave it like that.

In about 10 days I am going away for fieldwork in Spain and Portugal, so expect an increase in blogging frequency!

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