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Old Sunday 24th September 2006, 19:40   #1
James Lowther
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Andalucian Hemipode in Andalucia??

Yes yes I know Turnix sylvatica is common throughout Africa and Asia (and Australia?), but Andalucian Hemipode/Small Buttonquail strikes me as the nearest thing we in Europe have to the IBWO (hardly any documented claims, but they MAY still be there).

Looking through my three regional guides,

Gosney (1996) says "somewhere in the coto del Rey [Donana] AH were located in May 1991 and 1992"

Palmer (1997) equates belief in AH with belief in fairies (uh oh..), but says " the writer has only..met one birder who has reliably seen one in Spain! Coastal scrub in Huelva province was the site of that momentous find..a tiny population may still be there"

Garcia and Patterson (2001) claim "a relict population...survives in the coastal palmetto scrub of western Andalusia but they are rarely recorded.."
and also re: Donana "the AH appears to survive in the north of the park (Coto del Rey)"

so what's the current situation??

has anyone on the forum actually seen this species in Europe?

does anyone know of anyone who has seen or heard them, or even searched for them more recently??

What about other areas away from Donana? The Collins guide has a spot of purple in central portugal for this species, why is that? Gosney suggests a large area of dwarf fan palms near Cabo de Gata (Almeria province) might be worth checking out. Has anyone ever tried?

Whatever, it would be interesting to know if there have been any developments re: this species' status in Europe..

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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 08:41   #2
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bump,
just in case anyone who might be interested/know something hasn't seen it........
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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 09:55   #3
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Hi,

If I remember, it is extinct, and in WP known with certainity only from one (secret) location in Morocco.

I hope Spanish birders will clarify.
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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 10:33   #4
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I think the situation is as Jurek says though being such a secretive bird it is conceivable that it might just hold on in Donana NP.
Try contacting Carlos Urdiales -one of the Ornithologists at Donana -he is a member of BirdForum, he may be able to advise. His BF name is Carlos U.
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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 15:17   #5
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I seem to remember hearing (maybe from John Butler) that there are plans for a re-introduction scheme in Donana.

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Old Monday 25th September 2006, 15:42   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Lister
I seem to remember hearing (maybe from John Butler) that there are plans for a re-introduction scheme in Donana.

Steve

Thanks everyone.

a reintroduction would be good, assuming the reasons it became extirpated in the first place have been resolved?? Would there be any subspecies related issues though (I know it's poltypic)?
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Old Tuesday 26th September 2006, 00:16   #7
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I know it was seen and heard last year in south Spain, I think it was in Cadiz province. The exact place remains confidential (and no, I don´t know where it is ) but read the habitat was good and hopefully will get protected if all this gets confirmed.
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Old Tuesday 26th September 2006, 15:42   #8
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well that's good news motmot,
you see the trouble with the AH skeptics is they are starting from the position that the species is definitely extinct in europe, so they discount all reported sightings - it's classic circular reasoning



as you don't know where the sightings were i guess i'm free to speculate that they could have been on the opposite bank of the guadalquivir from donana, but then, Cadiz province is pretty big.
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Old Tuesday 26th September 2006, 17:21   #9
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?? Brazo de l'Este ??
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Old Tuesday 26th September 2006, 18:41   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jurek
?? Brazo de l'Este ??
Wrong type of habitat in these marshes which sit in Sevilla province but suitable habitat does exist in Western Cadiz province.
Apparently favours dry grassland /Palmetto scrub.

On a quick internet search I came across reference to recent status review of And. Hemipode in the Donana NP. The documents were translated from spanish & include one by Urdiales et al -I think this may be Carlos Urdiales (see above).

Here is the translation of one of particular interest (not my translation -to the shame of my Spanish mother-in-law I cannot speak Spanish!):

Notes from Atlas de las aves reproductoras de España (2003):

Population imprecisely known with no known methodology for censusing
due to its extreme secretiveness, although Doñana scientists have
been working on this in Spain and Morocco. A fair number of the
records come from hunters. A female was localised singing in Doñana
in 2002 and in years immediately previous to this a few birds had
been hunted in the same area and on estates in SW Cádiz province
according to questionnaires to hunters (shot because of confusion
with Quail).

Looks like it may just about be holding on in Andalucia.
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Old Wednesday 11th October 2006, 17:42   #11
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I add that in Italy it was present in Sicily until the 1910-1920, then it became extinct because of hunting.
Bye

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Old Wednesday 11th October 2006, 21:43   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Lowther
Thanks everyone.

a reintroduction would be good, assuming the reasons it became extirpated in the first place have been resolved?? Would there be any subspecies related issues though (I know it's poltypic)?
James,
Yes there would be presumably. We are speaking of the nominate sylvaticus, and it supposedly ranges only in S Spain and NW Africa (Morocco I guess). If rare and nearing extinction in both locales... I guess at that point a xenorace (non-nominate) of sylvaticus would have to be introduced, and it just would not be the same thing as if there were still race sylvaticus sylvaticus in Spain - they would be doomed I imagine to genetic dilution with the introduced birds and at that point one might as well declare the endemic race of Spain to all effects extinct.
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Old Thursday 12th October 2006, 07:06   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve G

Population imprecisely known with no known methodology for censusing
due to its extreme secretiveness, although scientists have been working on this. A fair number of the records come from hunters
What you need is men in camouflage suites in Kayaks. They'll record it :o)


I struggle to see any benefit in introducing the species, even less if its importing the wrong sub species. Now if it were globally threatened that would be a differemt argument
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Old Thursday 12th October 2006, 12:27   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Now if it were globally threatened that would be a different argument
Jane,
I guess the big deal is that it is the only Turnix sp. in Europe.
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Old Wednesday 5th August 2009, 21:52   #15
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Andalusian hemipode

I've been reading discussion of this species in Spain. If anyone is interested in an account of my sighting of one on Cape St Vincent, Portugal, please email me
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Old Thursday 6th August 2009, 12:51   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGoater View Post
I've been reading discussion of this species in Spain. If anyone is interested in an account of my sighting of one on Cape St Vincent, Portugal, please email me
I'm sure quite a lot of people would be interested so why not post it on here?
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Old Thursday 6th August 2009, 20:31   #17
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I would, but I don't know how to! Can someone tell me how to attach a document?
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Old Thursday 6th August 2009, 21:38   #18
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Hey Rick

Easiest way would be to just copy the text and paste it into the reply box below
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Old Thursday 6th August 2009, 23:03   #19
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Thanks for that - obvious really.

Clearly, owing to the rarity and unexpectedness of the bird, the record would never
be accepted, but I am convinced in my own mind of the bird's identity. The
description is pretty thin owing to the shortness of the view and if I were
the relevant bird recorder, I would not be able to find it in myself to
accept it. I mentioned it on the forum simply because I thought it would be
interesting to those who had already discussed it there.

One of the first things that struck me, when the bird flushed, was the
racket, out of all proportion to its size, that its wings made. It was only
on returning home that I read (in BWP, I expect) about this characteristic
feature. Although the Cape lacked dwarf palm, I reckon it was near perfect
habitat for this species. Not sure if the date is relevant: someone I
discussed it with reckoned there was some chance of post breeding season
dispersal from north Africa.

Any comments would be gratefully noted - especially if they came close to confirming that my identification was almost certainly faulty!

BIRDS RARITIES COMMITTEE – RECORD FORM

Species: Small Buttonquail.

Place: Pontal Gordo, near Cape St Vincent, Portugal.

Observer: Rick Goater.

Address:

Number of birds: One. Sex/age: Adult.

Dates: 25 November 2002.

Times/duration of my observations: Early afternoon. About 5 seconds.

Found by: Self. Identified by: Self.

Other observers: None.

Any who disagree:

Optical aids used: Zeiss 7X42B Dialyt.

Distance from bird From 10m to 40m.

Species present for comparison: Thekla Larks.

Previous experience of species: Nil.

Experience of similar species: Seen Quail well once (more often now!). Familiar with Corncrake.

Weather conditions: Hot and sunny.

DESCRIPTION:
(Continue overleaf and add extra sheets if necessary)

I was watching Thekla Larks in the Cape St Vincent area and had walked from the north-west facing coast there, southwards, crossing the N 268 road and following the eastern edge of the peninsular towards Pontal Gordo. The habitat was low, thorny scrub with Cistus bushes, quite dense but with open sandy areas within it and a 3-4m wide sandy track along which I was walking.

Small Buttonquail was not a bird I had ever thought of seeing and I had therefore rarely scrutinised it in any books. The following notes were made mentally at the time and are not influenced by anything I read about the species at a later date.

About 10m ahead of me a small bird exploded up from the ground by the side of the track, calling, and with a surprisingly loud whirring of the wings. The call was a dry, harsh, grating noise, which seemed fairly typical of a gamebird, and was repeated a few times. In size, the bird was much the same as the larks I had been watching but it clearly had a greater wing-loading and a very rapid wing-beat. It flew fast, about 1.5m above the ground, passing to my right and landing in fairly dense scrub near the track, about 40m behind me. I followed it as best I could, hoping to flush it but I never saw it again.

My initial thought, because the experience was akin to flushing a snipe, was ‘what kind of wader would be in this habitat?’ But this was quickly followed by the knowledge that this was not a wader and that this was a species I had never seen before. ‘Quail’ crossed my mind but I knew it was not one. It was not noticeably long-winged and as it flew past me I could see a narrow bill a little too long for that species. Moreover, the bird’s general coloration, that the side view gave me, was a rich yellow ochre which seemed too bright and pale for a quail.

It was only as the bird was about to land that I got my binoculars onto it. It landed fast but ‘carefully’, seeming almost to stall, and dropped vertically, with short tail lowered and head up. The legs were clearly visible as they dangled below the tip of the tail. I was struck the bird’s yellowish buff upper wing coverts and a mantle between them of a similar colour. The only bird-book I had with me on holiday was ‘Collins Bird Guide’ and of all the books I checked later, this one most accurately depicted the upper wing coverts as I saw them.

This was a tantalisingly brief view of what, by a process of elimination, I am certain was a Small Buttonquail. I did not notice, indeed did not look for, several important field-characters such as the dark spotting on the sides of the breast and the short, rounded-ness of the wings. I have no memory of dark flight feathers contrasting with the pale wing coverts. There is no doubt though, that the colour of the coverts stood out from the colour of their neighbouring feathers, and the wings were not ‘unexpectedly long’ as I have seen in Quail.

On visiting Tring Museum to look at Small Buttonquail skins, I was at first disappointed to see that in no cases did the upper wing coverts seem as uniformly pale as those on ‘my’ bird. The broad buff fringes of these feathers were exactly the right colour though, and one specimen, an adult female, had much broader pale fringes than the others and was quite like the bird I saw. When I set these birds up on a table and viewed them from a distance, the dark feather-centres, which were very obvious when closely viewed in the hand, became insignificant in comparison to the pale fringes.



100% certain? Yes. (well, in my own mind, anyway)
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Old Thursday 6th August 2009, 23:51   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RGoater View Post
The legs were clearly visible as they dangled below the tip of the tail.

I have no memory of dark flight feathers contrasting with the pale wing coverts.
Thank you for sharing the description with us!

Did you eliminate half-grown chick of Red-legged Partridge or similar gamebird?

I have no experience with the Buttonquail, but legs dangling behind not grown tail are characteristic for chicks of gamebirds.
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Old Friday 7th August 2009, 07:35   #21
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I did eliminate gamebird chicks. I am very familiar with them and they are abundant in fields at home, and I thought November a bit late for these in Portugal. In a long-ish day at Cape St Vincent I saw no other gamebirds - adult or young. I have no doubt that this was an adult bird.
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Old Monday 10th August 2009, 09:28   #22
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In recent times most records for the nominates Turnyx sylvatica sylvatica in Europe, the northern most form of the Small Buttonquail, are all referred to the Cabo de Gata area in Almeria province, some coastal areas in southern Cadiz and Doñana. It is considered to be extinct from Sicily (last observation in 1920) and Portugal (1972), probably extinct from Algeria (1976), need to be studied in Tunez (1985). There are still small located populations in northern Morocco.

The last records:
Van Ijzwndorn, E. 1990 - 01, one heard in Coto del Rey, Doñana.
Barroso I. 1992, one hunted in Gibraleon, Huelva
Garrido H. 1997, twice that year in Doñana
Garrido H. Heard in Acebuche, Doñana
Crouzier P. 2002, heard near Caceres
Viteri A. 2002, one individual in Cabo de Gata

No reliable or physical proves in the last 25 years.

In the last few years 2006–08 some 11.00 has of appropriate habitats have been thoroughly studied in Andalusia, in the provinces of Cadiz, Huelva, Sevilla and Almeria with no positive results. So at present there are no reliable proves of the presence of the species in Andalusia.
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Old Saturday 28th March 2015, 14:52   #23
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I've given this thread a 'bump' as I'm sure there are a good few people who'd like to know, whether in the six years or so since the last comment, there have been any sightings of this enigmatic species in Iberia or in north-west Africa (outside the known range in Morocco).

My own interest has recently been fired after doing a little research (mainly of an historical nature) on the species for my blog on Cadiz birding (far too long to be quoted in full here but if you'd like to read it see – http://birdingcadizprovince.weebly.c...ding-blog-page. My own feelings are that, given the rather surprising reports of the species in Spain at the start of this century and its notorious elusiveness, it would be premature to entirely discount the possibility that a few might yet survive, but that if any are found it will only be for us to witness their final extinction here. On the other hand I rather expect, if anyone's been able to look, for them to be found elsewhere in NW Africa outside the tiny relict population in SW Morocco.

It's also been interesting to discover that, contra the otherwise excellent and seminal article by Gutierrez et al (see History, status and distribution of Andalusian Buttonquail in the WP” by Carlos Gutiérrez Expósito et al Dutch Birding 33: 75-93; available online via www.researchgate.net), that the species was known to writers in Spain long before 1834 as they suggest. It's even noted and illustrated in,
*'A General Synopsis of Birds' (Vol II Part 2 p790 – see http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/33730435 published in 1783 – four years before it's 'official discovery by Desfontaines. It was apparently described even earlier as 'Three-toed Quail' by Dr George Shaw (one of the greatest naturalists of his day), but I've as yet not found the exact reference. The earliest report of the species I've found thus far is in 1770 (although it wasn't published until much later) when Gilbert White wrote to Thomas Pennant that his brother John (then a chaplain Gibraltar) to say his brother has sent him a “Tetrao coturnico similis, pedibus tridactylis - Smaller than the quail, and called trail, or terraile” (the name clearly being an Anglicised form of the Spanish El Torillo). Given that by this time British military personnel, always keen 'sportsmen', had been stationed on Gibraltar for over 50 years, it's quite likely that there are other (unpublished) records of the 'terralie' mouldering away amongst private papers.

Finally, it's been interesting to discover that the claimed British record of 1844 was supported by a photograph (presumably of the dead bird) which must surely be one of the earliest reports of photography being used to support the claim of a rare bird! (See - The Zoologist'*1849 http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/i...e/303/mode/1up).
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Old Tuesday 19th January 2016, 11:32   #24
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Hi John thanks for the reference, it's really interesting. I've found that is also cited in Gibraltar by Bonnaterre (1790), in his book Tableau encyclopédique des trois règnes de la nature, when describing the genus for the first time. Unfortunately, no proven or substained records of this species have occured in Spain since 1981. Probably it was still present in the early nineties, but nowadays possibilities of any remnant population in Spain is remote.
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Old Tuesday 19th January 2016, 12:07   #25
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Thanks for the reference. Is the source available online? Does he say anything further about the species or his source of information? My guess would be that his source is not independent but comes from Latham whose General Synopsis was so well regarded that even the French were inclined to reference it ;-)

I fear you're right about the species' status in Spain although, optimist as I am, I'm inclined to believe that a few might just have staggered on into the early 2000s.
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