normal Hooded Merganser Radipole

8 years 9 months ago #2 by Phil Bull
Phil Bull created the topic: Hooded Merganser Radipole
What's the current thinking on this one.

Watching Autumnwatch the other day, Bill Oddie spoke as if it were quite likely to be genuine, having been found exhausted in a sluice (the bird, not the birder that is). Lee Evans favours it, but he is more accepting than many.
I think I'll still wait for official confirmation before I count it, but wondered what others thought.
Might also pop down again over Christmas when I'm in the westcountry to see it in its breeding finery, regardless of provenance.

And hey! I'm the first person to post in this forum Whoo Hoo!
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8 years 9 months ago - 8 years 9 months ago #4 by Mike Prince
Mike Prince replied the topic: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Hi Phil

Firstly, congratulations for being the first on the forums! B)

It's interesting to see that 27 BUBO Listers have recorded Hooded Merg on their British life lists (BOU). Of these just 5 list the 2000 North Uist bird which is the only one BBRC currently consider acceptable. 10 list the Newbiggin bird (and 2 Woodhorn Flash - the same bird?) which I think is generally assumed to be a likely wild bird and may be accepted by BBRC in due course. 7 count the Dorset bird; I would have thought that many other BUBO Listers would have seen this individual so this may suggest that most consider it more likely an escape, and may not have twitched it for this reason?

I can't really speak about the credentials of the Dorset bird but I'm sure many people do have an opinion - let's hear them here!
Last Edit: 8 years 9 months ago by Mike Prince.
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8 years 9 months ago #5 by Phil Bishop
Phil Bishop replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Was very dubious about this bird, particularly date of arrival and the fact it hasnt gone anywhere since. There have been discussions elsewhere to suggest date may not be out of the question for American Ducks (eg the Scottish Barrows) and of course the overshooting Sparrows etc are known to occur at this time..
The fact that it arrived in an exhausted state and lingered on the drain until fit to fly does hint at a transatlantic arrival, but why hasnt it summered elsewhere as seems to be the case for most nearctic wildfowl.
Am now tempted to go and see it myself.
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8 years 9 months ago #6 by Mark Lawlor
Mark Lawlor replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
I remember when I first started birding people only took rare ducks and geese seriously if they were about a mile away, in amongst massive wild flocks, in the middle of winter and took flight the moment you peered out of your car. Anything less would mean escape. (I exaggerate of course).
Nowadays things are very often given the 'benefit of the doubt'.
I don't know why there has been such a change.
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8 years 9 months ago #7 by Tom Jordan
Tom Jordan replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
When I saw it I presumed it was an escape, but it's going on my list now! :)
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8 years 9 months ago #8 by Andy Musgrove
Andy Musgrove replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Tom Jordan wrote:

When I saw it I presumed it was an escape, but it's going on my list now! :)


Why's that Tom? What has swayed your thinking? (I'm not saying you're wrong - would just be interesting to hear your reasoning)

Cheers

Andy Mus.
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8 years 9 months ago #9 by John Martin
John Martin replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Just wanted to amend what Mike had said about currently accepted Hooded Mergs. The last BB report on rare birds in 2007 (in the October 2008 issue) has three accepted records: the 2000 Outer Hebs 1w that Mike mentioned plus the New Biggin 1w of March 2002 and the Shetland ad male of April-May 2006.

Not sure if the species comments in that issue offer any clues as to how the recent Radipole and Fife birds might fare. It is noted that they are still relatively common in captivity and that not all future records will necessarily be acceptable just because it's now on category A. Each will be judged on its own merit. The lack of rings will clearly be important and accurate ageing of female types is suggested as possibly helpful.

My approach would be to publish all that are not obviously dubious (so exclude any with rings for a start), age them and then look at the emerging pattern (if there is one) when there are enough records. It's not up to me though!

all the best

John M
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8 years 9 months ago #10 by Jonathan Lethbridge
Jonathan Lethbridge replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
I feel bound to wait until accepted. Not hopeful though, so many in captivity. No rings, fully winged, found exhausted, 1s bird, a number of yanks arrived at the same time, celebrity endorsement....
I went on the way back from a short break in Devon, mainly as its a smart bird, but also as insurance in case the powers that be decide its kosher. Come on the hoodie!
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8 years 9 months ago #11 by Phil Bishop
Phil Bishop replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Our thinking and understanding of migration does change. Once upon a time, American Passerines couldnt cross the Atlantic without the aid of boats, and I remember a time when things like Rose Coloured Starlings and various Buntings were always assumed to be escapes despite the formers known irruptive behavior.
Remember the first Brown Flycatcher? Despite none being known in captivity it was presumed to be an escape.
Ducks of course are a bit more tricky, being popular in collections, long lived and prone to wander unless the wings are clipped (though that didnt stop one Merganser).
Have been reading Martin Garners Frontiers in Birding, and there is a lot of interesting information in it. Not much pertaining to Hooded Merganser though it points out that there are few if any records of juvenile/1st winters in Europe except those that can safely be considered wild (Azores, Iceland). Also its the only north eastern American duck (apart from Wood Duck) yet to make it into category A.
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8 years 9 months ago #12 by Mike Prince
Mike Prince replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
John Martin wrote:

Just wanted to amend what Mike had said about currently accepted Hooded Mergs. The last BB report on rare birds in 2007 (in the October 2008 issue) has three accepted records: the 2000 Outer Hebs 1w that Mike mentioned plus the New Biggin 1w of March 2002 and the Shetland ad male of April-May 2006.

Thanks for correcting me John - my excuse is that the October 2008 issue of BB hasn't yet made it here in Bangalore!
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8 years 9 months ago #13 by Mike Prince
Mike Prince replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Phil Bishop wrote:

Have been reading Martin Garners Frontiers in Birding, and there is a lot of interesting information in it

Don't forget you can get Frontiers in Birding , or any other books, from NHBS via BUBO Listing and at the same time you help support this site with a small commission ;)
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8 years 9 months ago #15 by Tom Jordan
Tom Jordan replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Well when I saw it originally I presumed it was an escape, but there has been some discussion on BirdForum about how on Autumnwatch Bill Oddie said it was found exhausted and transported to Radipole, which was why I thought I should add it.

Turns out now that what Bill said wasn't true, so its origin is now unproven in my mind.
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8 years 9 months ago #17 by Jonathan Lethbridge
Jonathan Lethbridge replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
I think the exhausted bit might still be true, but the being transported bit has been rebuffed by Radipole RSPB, so that could be apocryphal. The bird in Fife probably has a better chance, but I wouldn't count this one out just yet. Btw, the Dorset bird is not on the BBRC WIP, does that indicate that it was not submitted by the finder? I don't know how this stuff works, but does it need to be formally submitted in order to even get looked at, or is its well-publicised arrival somehow just noted and examined like any other record?
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8 years 9 months ago #18 by Ian Broadbent
Ian Broadbent replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Can anyone shed any light on the criteria for ageing 1st winter female type Hooded Mergs? I see the Fife bird is consistently being described as a female/1st winter, but are there any hard and fast features for distinguishing between them?
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8 years 9 months ago #22 by John Martin
John Martin replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Hi Ian

This link suggests differences in wing patterns, especially the greater upperwing coverts between adult female and immature, the immature having a white bar that is shorter and less even in width here.

www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/duckplum/hoodmerg.htm

It's clearly a tiny sample that's shown but presumably the work is based on many birds. Moult might well have a significant effect so not sure if this will still apply to birds in late autumn/winter.

Apart from records of likely vagrants in the Azores (3 up to 2002) and Canary Islands (one in 2002) there are 7 records from Iceland. The latter are of interest re the Portland bird as four of them are highly concentrated in late May/early June. So if like me you were thinking the Portland bird was good because of its age but less good because of its arrival date then you should maybe think again - it actually might be rather good from that point of view. Not so keen on its very long stay though but one of the Iceland birds evidently stayed til the end of September when I guess it probably got rather cold.


They have increased a lot in the E USA too but there are also a lot in collections of course and I expect escapes to be at least as frequent, probably more frequent, than wild birds over here.

all the best

John M
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8 years 9 months ago #23 by Mark Lawlor
Mark Lawlor replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
I guess that if it is to be acceptable then it needs to show a bit of migratory urge. Even if it winters in the area, so long as it doesn't stay into next summer then it may be ok - but already its a long stay for a duck in one place I'd have thought. Most long-staying ducks seem to at least wander round a bit.

I hope it is acceptable for those who've seen it cos it looks pretty awesome on the photos. And anyway, since it's on cat A, in the true BUBO Listing spirit - "Can I tick it? Yes you can!" - your list, your choice.
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8 years 9 months ago #24 by Ian Broadbent
Ian Broadbent replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Thanks John,

There is a photo on Birdguides of the Tayport bird doing a wing-flap

www.birdguides.com/pictures/default.asp?...f=184917&r=0&st=0&q=

The greater covert bar appears fairly broad and the white patches seem well defined across c.5 feathers; the tertials look adult-like so presumably the bird has moulted these feathers already.
Difficult to compare with the photos of the specimens though.

Ian
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8 years 9 months ago #29 by Mark Lawlor
Mark Lawlor replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
If you haven't seen them yet, the latest photos on Surfbirds of the Radipole bird show it scoffing bread with Mallards at a distance of 1 metre. It seems to be holding its own in the scrap though!
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8 years 9 months ago #30 by Phil Bull
Phil Bull replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Lots of interesting perspectives, as I expected.
Thanks for all these views :) . On balance I think the best approach is go and see the bird if you're in the area and want to see it. Worry about whether it's listable later.
The length of my list is decidedly underwhelming, but I cant be the only one who has a private personal list of self found uncountables that I enjoyed seeing & IDing.
Am I going to Tayport specially to see the other one ?
Umm not unless it's still there next time I go to Scotland anyway, I'm afraid.
I may well go again over Christmas to catch the Rad Hoody in breeding costume.
Then of course there's the question of what if it escaped from a collection in the US & then made its own way here, what then ??:ohmy:
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8 years 9 months ago #32 by John Martin
John Martin replied the topic: Re: Hooded Merganser Radipole
Hi Again

Just one more thing that sprung to mind about this bird - could it be the Hooded Merg that was on the R Stour at Wimbourne Minster (and largely ignored, it seems) from 3-6 Jan this year? Not sure that that would necessarily damn it any more than its eventual learning to take bread after five months at Radipole. It would blow my 'late May/early June is a good time for one to arrive theory' (based on Icelandic records) away though. If the earlier bird was photgraphed or has been aged that might decide it (well if adult then clearly not the same bird).

all the best

John M
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