Thursday, 5 March 2009

Itch Amazing

Following on from last night's post it seems that Mr Mullarney just isn't going to fade away. On a slightly more serious note some emails have been flying hither and thither and it has now been suggested that 'the small black dots that had developed so rapidly above and behind the eye were actually feather-lice'.
KM went on to say 'I am reminded of having very recently seen some photos of a different Ivory Gull, an adult-type, but it too (if I remember correctly) had a few tiny, neat black dots around the eye and the suggestion was that these indicated it must be a second-winter, with retained traces of immaturity. I don't remember exactly where I came across these photos but perhaps, now that we are aware of them, we will notice them more often?'.

This certainly takes ID to new and unexpected levels, perhaps a challenge for the 'macro' photographers to help us understand.

3 comments:

Stewart said...

The photos he is on about are in Birding World page 7 this issue and the bird was at North Uist...It too has the speckling behind the eye but not as obvious as the juv. I think they are just retained feathers. Birds always moult their head feathers last when coming out of juvvy plumage ( other than their remiges and rectrices of course)...

Alan Tilmouth said...

It's interesting, Dominic Mitchell has opened them in Photoshop and he reckons they are some kind of flea or lice. I just think it's kind of amusing that we could be fleeced by a louse (with reference to ageing).

Stewart said...

I cant imagine lice on Ivory Gulls. In winter on pack ice. No way. And do they infest in formation cos the specks are the same on the adult bird too...Birds get infested with pests in the warmer months and even then they are difficult to see unless they are pea ticks...