Sunday, 20 February 2011


I scraped a couple of hours in the field Friday between shopping (ugh) and work. It was grey, it was cold and frankly not a huge amount happening. Having said that it was a damn sight better than being stuck indoors. First stop was a quick look at the 'hospital pool' at Ashington for the four adult Greenland White-fronted Geese that have been around since mid-Jan. Still there, or at least their heads were, I presume still attached rather than on sticks but due to the lie of the land who knows.

As I headed up the coast I was hardly filled with optimism. A sudden gush of corvids and pigeons as I came past the Ash Lagoons prompted me to pull in, just in time for a Peregrine to sail through and over into the north end of the lagoons.
Druridge Bay Country Park, my next stop was very quiet, the only vaguely interesting bird (at least to me) I could drag out of the hangers on waiting for bread was an argentatus Herring Gull.

 After noting that a large proportion of the Bewick's Swans had departed Slimbridge during the week I decided that I'd head home via the back roads on the off-chance that a group may have dropped in for a rest somewhere. Bewick's are RARE in Northumberland these days. Not 500m along the road and a group of swans appeared as if by magic in a roadside field, 10 in all, the only problem being they weren't Bewick's but Whooper Swans.

I headed slowly back home without seeing almost any birds at all, even corvids were notable by their absence from the usual haunts. A big flock of Lapwing (317) the only entry in the notebook from the new lakes created during opencast restoration at Middle Stobswood.

A last stop at Bothal Pond revealed where all the corvids were, the west field was full with c.400 Jackdaws, 100 Rooks and a few Crows. A little time working through the Jackdaws, sadly at distance revealed three individuals showing characteristics of nominate race monedula (see images below).

Interesting that whilst two showed clear differences between black wing panel and greyer upperparts and/or underparts one stood out as still having black underparts despite a fairly good white collar.Martin Garner has been blogging about Jackdaws again, co-incidentally just this morning and I was interested to note that Dan Brown suggested the possibility of 'intergrade'. There is an overlap zone between spermologus and monedula races in Europe and they have been proven to interbreed occasionally, perhaps these individuals are more likely to be these intergrades or turrium as they were formerly known?


Anonymous said...


Difficult to tell much from the pics - the first bird seems to be rather similar to another bird at front centre of the same pic. Can't tell what's down to angle, light, inherent variation etc. Presume it was much more clear cut in the field.

Perhaps we'll get a few more pics of interesting birds over the coming weeks as more people address Jackdaw subspecific id.

alan tilmouth said...

(Dan/Jimmy/Martin/None of the aforementioned?)Yes, better looking down a scope unfortunately all some 300m in the middle of field. The individual in the first image could be picked out on paler underparts from that distance and as I tried to annotate had a white neck patch visible at several different angles but without the collar.
Maybe I'll have to get a sheep hide!

Anonymous said...

The bird on the left in the link above varies quite interestingly, both in underpart colour and collar prominence etc.

Alan, is there a good article on jackdaw subspecific id that you are aware of? I'd quite like to delve a bit deeper.

alan tilmouth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alan tilmouth said...

Yes there was an interesting paper by Rudy Offereins a few years back that can be found at: