NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

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Paul Scofield
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:39 am

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Paul Scofield » Mon May 11, 2020 8:51 am

After a successful twitch to Pegasus, I was looking into the eye colour of NZ dabchick (aka NZ Grebe) using online resources.

I was aware that dabchick had yellow/pale eyes even as immatures and that this was an important ID point (and both Pegasus birds did) so I was astonished to find these image of a bird at Taupo:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S26551946#_ ... 1586291396

and see also just one of the individuals in this record:

https://ebird.org/checklist/S64822923#_ ... 1586291396

The intriguing thing is that this bird also seems to have a bare patch of skin rising from the gape to the eye that immature/alternate birds of the Little Grebe group also have. It also seems unusually white at the rear end

Now I am not saying this is a Tricolored Grebe Tachybaptus tricolor. The head pattern and bill color do not fit. But what is interesting is that it is certainly an odd individual and rather diminishes the importance of eye colour as a definitive character for NZ Grebe.
Colin Miskelly
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Joined: Sat Jul 11, 2009 6:31 pm

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Colin Miskelly » Mon May 11, 2020 9:17 am

Interesting find/observation Paul

I wonder whether the Tokaanu 'brown-eyed' dabchick is an aberrant individual, rather than falling within the range of 'normal'?

Somewhere among my poorly sorted 35-mm transparencies there will be images of a Snares crested penguin with yellow eyes (cf. usual red-brown). The image was taken on the Snares, and was the only such individual among many thousands of observations/individuals.

This forum has many reports of birds with aberrant plumage, but not many birds that have typical plumage but unusual eye colour.

Regards
Colin
Jan
Posts: 1475
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:43 am
Location: Christchurch

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Jan » Wed May 20, 2020 1:36 pm

Had a great trip to Pegasus wetland this morning. I had forgotten how to drive at 100k but soon got the hang of it again! Grahame Bell took some good photos of Bittern and what seem to be 2 species of small grebe. No Great Crested this am.
eBird list being compiled.
RandF
Posts: 55
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:07 pm

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby RandF » Wed May 20, 2020 4:42 pm

Hi Jan

Which pond was the Bittern on?
Rgds
Richard
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Richard Hurt
Jan
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:43 am
Location: Christchurch

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Jan » Wed May 20, 2020 4:53 pm

Hi Rich, same pond as the Dabchick, though it moved right back to the road and flew over to another area further south. It was only Grahame staying around while we went and had morning tea in a carpark that found the bird at all and also the other grebe, which could be a Hoary-headed, I think.
RandF
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Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 7:07 pm

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby RandF » Wed May 20, 2020 7:10 pm

Thanks Jan, we are going up there tomorrow morning.
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Richard Hurt
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GrahameNZ
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Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby GrahameNZ » Thu May 21, 2020 8:50 am

Some pics from yesterday.
The Bittern was quite mobile.
Later on I saw it fly well north of the northern pond over the farmland towards the pines.
Looking on google maps I see there's a few bits of wet stuff between Pegasus and Waikuku.
Bittern_1200_GNZ20200520-0087.jpg
Bittern_1200_GNZ20200520-0087.jpg (407.34 KiB) Viewed 305 times
Dabchick_1200_GNZ20200520-0252.jpg
Dabchick_1200_GNZ20200520-0252.jpg (223.37 KiB) Viewed 305 times
Dabchick_1200_GNZ20200520-0137.jpg
Dabchick_1200_GNZ20200520-0137.jpg (131.97 KiB) Viewed 305 times
Jan
Posts: 1475
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:43 am
Location: Christchurch

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Jan » Fri May 22, 2020 1:33 pm

That poor Bittern didn't want to be looked at by lenses of any sort yesterday. It's an immature, I think, they get darker with age. The dabchicks were really exciting to see this far south. Must keep an eye on them in case breeding is happening. Pity that so many bird remains have also been found and cats are hunting close by.
Paul Scofield
Posts: 132
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 10:39 am

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Paul Scofield » Fri May 22, 2020 2:28 pm

Hi Jan just a comment on bittern plumages - yes I agree this is a juvenile but its not the paleness that's diagnostic but the pattern of streakiness (vermiculation) on the breast, coverts (and tail -not visible) that's the clincher. The dark birds that you generally see are (in my experience) always adults but there has long been a suspicion (i.e. in HANZAB) that there are 2 morphs of bittern (a dark and a rare pale morph). Perhaps someone that works a bit more on Bittern might care to comment?
Paul
Jan
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Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2009 10:43 am
Location: Christchurch

Re: NZ Dabchicks at Pegasus wetland.

Postby Jan » Fri May 22, 2020 4:11 pm

Thx Paul, good to know.

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