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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 19:05   #1
IanF
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Juvenile Bewick's or Whooper Swan - Seaton Pond, Co. Durham, UK

Must admit I thought these were Whooper Swan from the bill pattern but others say Bewick's and they've been getting reported as Bewick's on the local bird club web site - assuming they're the same birds of course though the only others present were Mute Swan.

They were pretty small maybe 2/3 the size of the Mute Swans.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 19:35   #2
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Need someone who knows, but I thought size was a defining factor for Bewicks, being the smaller of all the 'white swans'. Thereby 2/3 suggest baby Bewicks rather than Whooper? I'll be interested to see the replies.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 19:42   #3
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I am going to say Whoopers as they are fairly uniformly grey. There seems to be more yellow or in this case white on the bill. I also think the Bewick's have an appreciably smaller neck. But then again I am sure someone will put me right if this aint the case!!
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 19:53   #4
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I saw these swans today and i thought they looked more like Whooper but as Ian said they were smaller than the Mute swans.Whooper are generally the same size as Mute.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 20:07   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rokermartin View Post
I saw these swans today and i thought they looked more like Whooper but as Ian said they were smaller than the Mute swans.Whooper are generally the same size as Mute.
As these birds are juveniles I would expect them to be smaller. I would say Whooper Swans for the ID.

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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 20:27   #6
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I would say definately Whoopers, they're identical to the immatures in this photo.

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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 20:56   #7
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Whoopers for me too. Big long necks, nice sharp triangular patch on the bills and the size of the bird.

These were seen at Martin Mere last week

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink

http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo...eat=directlink


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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 21:30   #8
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Whoopers no doubt,great pics by the
way Ian.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 21:38   #9
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Would young whoopers be as small as 2/3 the size of Mute? The birds when swimming look quite short necked although they do look longer in the other pics.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 22:00   #10
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I don't see anything in the photos to make me think they are anything other than whoopers.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 22:14   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IanF View Post
Must admit I thought these were Whooper Swan from the bill pattern but others say Bewick's and they've been getting reported as Bewick's on the local bird club web site - assuming they're the same birds of course though the only others present were Mute Swan.

They were pretty small maybe 2/3 the size of the Mute Swans.
Definately Whoopers on structure alone. Bill pattern and size are not the only differences between the two species. I can nothing in these photos to suggest Bewick's.
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Old Friday 4th December 2009, 23:10   #12
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Thanks everyone for the clarification
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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 21:18   #13
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Couple more shots of the swans Ian posted in poor light taken a couple of days back....They are now being reported as Bewicks(again).
Thoughts welcomed.?..they do look very small compared to young Mutes, and not so straight necked.
Confused myself now!
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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 21:24   #14
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Thanks everyone for the clarification
Is the ID so clear now looking at the newly attached photos? I was a little uneasy at the 'obvious Whooper' conclusion taken by many posters when these first appeared. Now I'm even more uneasy.

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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 21:57   #15
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Still Whoopers.....
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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 22:05   #16
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No need for confusion!! Still Whoopers.take a look at NIROFO's
pic- the two juvs look very short necked compared to the adults
simply because of the posture that they are adopting.Bill pattern
can only be Whooper-even allowing for variation.2nd new photo
should leave no doubt,very obviously 'Swan' and not 'Goose' like.
Cheers,
Mark
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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 22:48   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jascha777 View Post
No need for confusion!! Still Whoopers.take a look at NIROFO's
pic- the two juvs look very short necked compared to the adults
simply because of the posture that they are adopting.Bill pattern
can only be Whooper-even allowing for variation.2nd new photo
should leave no doubt,very obviously 'Swan' and not 'Goose' like.
Cheers,
Mark
Just to be clear, I'm not saying definitely that these are one or the other, just that caution should be exercised before we all say with certainty what these two are. You will probably remember there was a recent thread about a flying Swan where the majority of posters were absolutely clear about the ID as Bewick's, but after much discussion it turned out that most people in the end opted for Whooper. I have also seen a number of other threads on this forum where the majority have been proved wrong in the end, so the fact that a number of people say they are clearly Whoopers adds little credence IMHO.

The apparent neck length isn't the only thing that makes me question these as clear Whoopers, but the fact that these 2 birds are reputedly so small compared with nearby Mutes.

Here are some pics of apparent juv Bewick's that are not dissimilar to the two birds here. Scroll down near to the bottom of the page for pics by Sean Nixon, though it's possible that the ID there could mistaken too.

http://www.surfbirds.com/cgi-bin/gallery/search.cgi



Steve

link doesn't work, but search for Bewick's Swan in Surfbirds UK scarce gallery.

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Old Friday 11th December 2009, 23:26   #18
seggs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jascha777 View Post
No need for confusion!! Still Whoopers.take a look at NIROFO's
pic- the two juvs look very short necked compared to the adults
simply because of the posture that they are adopting.Bill pattern
can only be Whooper-even allowing for variation.2nd new photo
should leave no doubt,very obviously 'Swan' and not 'Goose' like.
Cheers,
Mark
Well that was my thoughts with bill size and pattern, never seen juv. Bewicks before myself.

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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 00:05   #19
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Both the latest photo's are Whoopers!

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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 00:37   #20
jascha777
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Smile

As SteveC so rightly points out,one should never just
assume an ID is correct because the majority of people
claim it is something,and caution should always be exercised
in tricky ID's-but please look again at IanF's excellent Photos,
No's3&4 in particular and try to turn these into Bewick's!!!
Cheers
Mark

PS Now you come to mention it I do remember the other thread,
and I also remember who first suggested it was a Whooper!!
(obvious without opening the thumbnail)

Last edited by jascha777 : Saturday 12th December 2009 at 00:41. Reason: Diff photo no's
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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 13:58   #21
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I have looked at several pics of Whooper and Bewick's Swan bill markings in the last few days and to me the swans clearly show Whooper bill markings.
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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 14:52   #22
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Originally Posted by rokermartin View Post
I have looked at several pics of Whooper and Bewick's Swan bill markings in the last few days and to me the swans clearly show Whooper bill markings.
I would tend to agree with you. I haven't seen these two birds but can't understand why they look so small in the field to people who have seen them, yet they do look more Whooper-like in jizz & bill markings.

One of life's little mysteries; especially as Bewick's are supposed to be 'do-able' on size alone.

Looks like it's Whoopers for me too then.

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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 16:35   #23
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Interesting discussion! I have just seen these two swans for the first time today. I can't claim any good experience with juveniles of either species, having never properly studied a juvenile without accompanying adults. It's embarrassing!

I found size and shape very difficult to judge, even after watching them for an hour. They never looked particularly long-necked though and they are small compared to the Mute's!

As has been mentioned, the bill pattern of these swans fits Whooper very well. However the literature I can find isn't very encouraging regarding whether bill pattern can be used to identify juveniles. BWP is fairly non-commital and "Wildfowl" doesn't help much either.

So pictures like Sean Nixon's on the Surfbirds Scarce Gallery (referred to below; from Westleton in December 2008) are quite interesting. Most of the young Bewick's in the Surfbirds gallery have bill patterns which resemble adult Bewick's. But assuming the Winterton juvs are Bewick's Swans, then their bills look similar to the Seaton Pond birds.

[For another example see here: http://www.arkive.org/bewicks-swan/c...ge-A16128.html ]

However there is a subtle difference in the pattern of pink on the upper mandible. In the Westleton picture, both birds have pink which cuts across the bill quite a bit above the nostril (ie between the nostril and the eye) whereas the seaton birds both have the pink cutting through the nostril (I've attached a dodgy field sketch but this is also shown very well on Ian F's first photo).

If the pink on these juvenile swans' bills turns black, then the Westleton birds will end up with a Bewick's' pattern and the Seaton Pond birds will end up with a Whoopers' pattern.

So, is this a reliable feature in juvenile swans? If yes, then they must be small Whooper Swans.

I have noticed while looking at all many swan photos on the web, that Bewick's tend to show more of a bulge below the base of the bill than Whoopers, which helps to make the bill look shorter and deeper-based. They also seem to have a slightly different shape of the feathers at the gape of the bill. I don't know if either of these are consistent features but the Seaton Pond birds look more like Whoopers in both respects.
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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 17:12   #24
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Interesting discussion! I have just seen these two swans for the first time today. I can't claim any good experience with juveniles of either species, having never properly studied a juvenile without accompanying adults. It's embarrassing!

I found size and shape very difficult to judge, even after watching them for an hour. They never looked particularly long-necked though and they are small compared to the Mute's!

As has been mentioned, the bill pattern of these swans fits Whooper very well. However the literature I can find isn't very encouraging regarding whether bill pattern can be used to identify juveniles. BWP is fairly non-commital and "Wildfowl" doesn't help much either.

So pictures like Sean Nixon's on the Surfbirds Scarce Gallery (referred to below; from Westleton in December 2008) are quite interesting. Most of the young Bewick's in the Surfbirds gallery have bill patterns which resemble adult Bewick's. But assuming the Winterton juvs are Bewick's Swans, then their bills look similar to the Seaton Pond birds.

[For another example see here: http://www.arkive.org/bewicks-swan/c...ge-A16128.html ]

However there is a subtle difference in the pattern of pink on the upper mandible. In the Westleton picture, both birds have pink which cuts across the bill quite a bit above the nostril (ie between the nostril and the eye) whereas the seaton birds both have the pink cutting through the nostril (I've attached a dodgy field sketch but this is also shown very well on Ian F's first photo).

If the pink on these juvenile swans' bills turns black, then the Westleton birds will end up with a Bewick's' pattern and the Seaton Pond birds will end up with a Whoopers' pattern.

So, is this a reliable feature in juvenile swans? If yes, then they must be small Whooper Swans.

I have noticed while looking at all many swan photos on the web, that Bewick's tend to show more of a bulge below the base of the bill than Whoopers, which helps to make the bill look shorter and deeper-based. They also seem to have a slightly different shape of the feathers at the gape of the bill. I don't know if either of these are consistent features but the Seaton Pond birds look more like Whoopers in both respects.


I also saw that very same picture in your link, but also came to the same conclusion as you i.e. that these must be considered Whoopers if bill patterns of Juvs 'mirror' those of adults, however I have no conclusive proof of this.

I also agree that it's embarrassing that these are not proving to be so clear-cut as some people would have us believe,

Steve
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Old Saturday 12th December 2009, 18:05   #25
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I always assumed that the bill pattern of juvenile wild swans mirrored that of adults,apart from colour, at least that is my experience. All the juvs I've seen of both species have shown this & accompanied by adults to back up the id. Please correct me if i'm wrong. Cheers, P.
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