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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 09:08   #401
Duncan Wilson
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I was fortunate enough to see one of the Moroccan SBCs in Dec 1991. One character that struck me at the time was how noticeable the white feathering on the relatively long tibia looked. The bird had the habit of standing quite upright when alert, giving an impression of standing on "tip-toe", and seen front-on the tibial feathering was one of the most obvious features. I wonder if anybody who has seen the Minsmere curlew has gained this impression?
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 09:52   #402
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluetail
Perversely, I didn't find this a problem. When I first saw the bird it was alongside a Curlew and I reckoned it was 20% smaller, which is within the accepted range - though I admit I find such percentages difficult to judge.
Cheers, Jason. Yes this is all pretty crazy!

I think this all boils down to an act of faith? There are features on this bird that are spot on for SbC, but wrong for EC. There are features on this bird that are spot on for EC and wrong for SbC. For me there are more pro SbC than pro EC so in my rather simple and unrefined mind I'm willing to have this as SbC. I really think that if this bird wasn't quite so rare and if nailing this ID was not of such huge importance then many more people would have this as SbC...?

Agreed (with whoever said it) that this is the best BF thread for ages.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 10:20   #403
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allwood
here ya go folks:

just got it from a friend - don't know who the photographer is
Tim, I am under the impression that the rump colouration is diagnostic even if the bill is debateable and this seems inconsistent with SBC. The tail length seems to show a long and sharp tail in contrast with the body proportion and this would surely eliminate SBC and whimbrel. I still remain to be convinced about the ID but this image favours a race of EC or simply an odd EC.

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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 10:35   #404
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Hi Ian,

The pic that Tim posted shows dark markings extending onto the uppertail coverts, but not the rump proper. Check Birding World page 187 for a flight picture showing this on SbC. You are correct that the rump should be clean though.

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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 10:48   #405
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
Hi Ian,

The pic that Tim posted shows dark markings extending onto the uppertail coverts, but not the rump proper. Check Birding World page 187 for a flight picture showing this on SbC. You are correct that the rump should be clean though.

Tommel
Hi Tom,

This is a fascinating thread and my thoughts are changing all the time with the evidence being put forward. I think this thread is ample sign that the Bird Forum is the place to go for informed discussion that is also (for the most part) really helpful. [Can I have my fiver now Steve?] I am hoping to get to the RSPB library some time today to do as much research as possible in case I get the chance to go sometime over the w/e. I don't really care what the bird is now because the exercise in polishing my ID skills has certainly been great fun.

Ian
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 11:18   #406
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duncan Wilson
I was fortunate enough to see one of the Moroccan SBCs in Dec 1991. One character that struck me at the time was how noticeable the white feathering on the relatively long tibia looked. The bird had the habit of standing quite upright when alert, giving an impression of standing on "tip-toe", and seen front-on the tibial feathering was one of the most obvious features. I wonder if anybody who has seen the Minsmere curlew has gained this impression?
I was specifically looking for this upright stance and didn't see it, except once when all the curlews went into alert posture - and then there didn't seem to be anything distinctive about it. I may just have been unlucky, of course.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 13:44   #407
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Interesting summary attached from Gerald Driessens on Eurobirdnet.

Andy.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 14:41   #408
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very interesting again....

but even all these 'experts' can get it wrong - and many of them have done in the last few days. For example, it is far from correct to say that Another opinion, that SbC could be just a
hybrid between two (sub)species of Curlew seems strange, as SbC was known to
have a very specific migration route and habitat choice
as Curlew, Slender-billed Curlew and Whimbrel occured side-by side on the same marsh on the breeding grounds.
see the BB article on Ushakov and his search for Slender-billed Curlews
there's still a lot of misinformation doing the rounds......

otherwise the rest of Gerald's post makes sense to me
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 15:10   #409
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Allwood
very interesting again....

otherwise the rest of Gerald's post makes sense to me
G's post also picks up on the apparent neatening-up of the left flank over the period late last week to early this week. I put this down to weather and distance of viewing/photographing (and maybe even some preening by that shortish bill)- but could someone out there who knows about these things tell me how fast a moult can progress? I'm guessing that even if a bird is moulting body feathers, no more than a few large new flank feathers would appear over a 1 week period. Any views?
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 15:53   #410
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Originally Posted by marklhawkes
2nd) mtDNA would (to the best of my knowledge) only provide the identification to one of the parents (the female i think), so this may not be as conclusive as people think. If it turns out to be a SBC, it could be a hybrid, or if its believed to be a EC, it could still be a hybrid!

Also rusty on the tracing of DNA markers back to the parents... HOWEVER..... It would allow the bird to be sexed which would defninitely tip the balance on the ID... I think its safe to say if it came back as a male with SBC parent , its less likely to be a pure SBC.... the converse is also true should it prove to be a female with an EC parent.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 15:58   #411
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Okay, for those that haven't seen this bird, I think those that have should provide a link to a picture (from wherever you like) that you think is the best depiction of this bird in the field.

I'm just about to finish work so don't have time, but please do & will excitedly await 9am tomorrow and then post my own favourite.

Tom McmcmcmcmcmcmcK
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 16:00   #412
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jane Turner
Also rusty on the tracing of DNA markers back to the parents... HOWEVER..... It would allow the bird to be sexed which would defninitely tip the balance on the ID... I think its safe to say if it came back as a male with SBC parent , its less likely to be a pure SBC.... the converse is also true should it prove to be a female with an EC parent.
Just to add to this portion of the debate (assuming the bird is an SBC), the DNA testing would run in conjunction with museum specimens, as this is an ongoing project. The potential would then be to trace the origins of any SBC breeding grounds by comparing back to known origins. It could give hints about the breeding grounds but as I have said before, it may not prove anything at all because these birds may be wandering remnants with little chance of finding a mate. Sadly, this is probably a common feature of extinction that the last bird has an unknown fate unlike Martha the passenger pigeon. It is now five years since any SBC was seen in wintering areas but there is a chance that individual birds are still alive but it is likely we will never know. Sorry to be adding such a sobering note to a lively debate but the research I have done over the last few days has really brought it home to me and I hope it is making other people think too.

Ian
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 16:24   #413
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With the new and better pics available I Thought I'd take a look at the wing structure to see if there was anything useful.

SBC
Wing long, rather narrow, pointed. 11 primaries; p10 longest, p9*1–5 shorter, p8*13–17, p7*25–32, p6*42–54, p5*58–72, p1*114–140; p11 minute, concealed by primary coverts.

Curlew
Wing long, rather narrow, pointed. 11 primaries: p10 longest, p9*4–11 shorter, p8*13–27, p7*28–48, p6*45–68, p5*69–90, p1*140–165; p11 minute, concealed by primary coverts.


So most helpfully if the second outermost visible primary was markedly shorter than the longest it would be a stong argument against SBC.. Of course its not... its right at the bottom end of the range!
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 17:37   #414
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A wicked little thought …. imagine a parallel universe out there where Slender-billed Curlew are the common ones and Eurasian Curlew is the one declining into extinction. Then imagine that the 'Minsmere Curlew' slipped through a rent in the space-time continuum to entertain our parallel fellow birders. I bet they'd all be jumping up and down and claiming a Eurasian Curlew! Personally, now that much better photos are available, it's looking more and more like a small Eurasian Curlew and less like a SBC. One of the factors that persuaded me not to bother was the contrast between how distinctive SBC looked in the photo on the cover of 'BB' (the one on the Druridge Bay bird) and how different the postuire/jizz/shape was of the bird at Minsmere. Even if it was/is a SBC, it didn't look interesting enough to bother! John
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 17:57   #415
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Yep, wise words as usual John

I think analysis of museum specimens, curlews from central asia, and any hybrids found could prove very interesting....the more you delve and read about SBC the more you realise just how little has ever been known about them and it makes you wonder just how much weight to put on several of the quoted id features of anything other than definite adult birds.....I can't help finding it a little strange that they all bred side by side and since then no breeding grounds anywhere can be found......and SBC has never been anything other than rare - even 100 years ago they were 'rare' - maybe 1 for every 100 curlews is the quoted figure....

and yes, all along the shape, structure, build and bill have appeared at least, to be very different from any pix available of those earlier birds with their light build, small size and slender bills.

Sorry Tom but i can't see much virtue in posting our fave pic of the bird to highlight our point of view..... I could refer you to any of the pix John mentions above as to what a SBC looks like jizz-wise (and i do mean any of them!)
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 18:07   #416
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The Curlew seems to have slipped from the bird alert services (well, the free ones anyway!)...does anyone know if it's still there today?

I'm coming up to Suffolk again next weekend and if it hangs about, will be nice to try and get a closer look and better pics, without having to stretch/stoop for a viewing position like I did last Sunday.

Think that it might be harder to locate it by then though, with a fraction of the people looking. Unless, of course, the DNA tests are fast-tracked through and come up with surprising results!

Also...further to one of my earlier comments, and just for interest now, I suppose...has anyone managed to locate any pics of alboaxillaris Whimbrel? Just to see why they can be classed as a key confusion species.

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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 18:20   #417
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Ben,

The Curlew was reported on RBA as being there today at 12.55, at least.

Interesting point rasied by a mate of mine today;On some photo's the bird's bill looks spot on, on others the bill doesn't look slender enough. The simple answer to that is that if you zoom in on the "wrong bill" shots you will notice that it is ever so slightly open - even a millimetre ot two will create the impression that bill is thicker than it actually is. Because the photo's are taken from such a long distance this will not be easy to see.

Also, particularly on photos taken in the stubble field, there will be some mud on the tip of the bill which is stuck to it during feeding. This also creates the impression that bill isn't fine enough at the tip (which SBC isn't all that fine anyway - it isn't a needle stuck on the end).

Interesting theories, one's which would kill off the argument against it being a SBC based on bill structure.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 18:30   #418
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Just to add my 2 penneth...

I was reading a DIMW article (Birdwatching) about Whimbrel,
and he touches upon SBC in the piece;
"Curlews also reached Lagos, I shall go to my grave
believing that 2 of them were actually Slender-billed,
but alas I failed to get enough proof.
Now that the species is so rare, the odds on anyone
establishing equatorial wintering in Africa are nil."
There's also a nice field sketch included in the article
of 1 of Ian's 'SBC's in flight...
So, many before have tried to pin an ID on the blighters!!..
I hope that the Minsmere bird is a SBC...for the sake of the species.

Dave.
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 18:47   #419
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interesting about the bill Mark but it does infer that all the existing photos of SBC conveniently had the bill closed. Maybe this one can't keep it's gob shut. I know the feeling
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 20:15   #420
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Just for amusement I've been looking at how variable E.Curlew can be!


Small billed
http://www.naturfoto-online.de/bilder/foto02188.jpg
http://koti.mbnet.fi/~malmip/lintukuvat/isokuovi.jpg
http://www.vogeldagboek.nl/Afbeeldin...ulp020803A.jpg

White Axilliaries
... and dark crown! http://www.naturfoto.cz/images/ptaci...velka_1173.jpg


Pale tailed/rumped
http://www.tsuru-bird.net/shorebirds..._eurasian1.jpg
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 20:48   #421
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cheers Doc Turner

can't get this out of my head at the moment: It was in a mail from Lee and may have been quoted earlier but here it is for any newcomers

One very interesting Email I received was from Russian ornithologist Valery Moseykin. I had asked him about the authenticity of 27 recently claimed SBC's in the Ukraine. His reply was such (translated into English).

''I participated in the Russian programme to search for the Slender-billed Curlew and agree fully with the opinions of Professors Tomkovich, Morozov & Koblik that it is necessary to ensure the correct identification of the species. The main problems here are separation from N.arquata orientalis (Eastern Curlew) and N.p.alboaxillaris (Steppe Whimbrel).

It is my opinion that SBC no longer exists as a species but just as a hybrid - between the two steppe species I mention above. In 2001, in steppe surrounding an oasis in the Kazakhstan desert we found a mixed colony of nesting curlews (orientalis & alboaxillaris) and we found that some individuals were actually INDISTINGUISHABLE in the field from what were previously described as Slender-billed Curlews (and I must remind you that Russian ornithologist Zarudny described a mixed nesting pair of Slender-billed Curlew and Eastern Curlew). Russian collector Ushakov was unique in that he reportedly found the nests of Slender-billed Curlew. He apparently took away eggs and shot adult birds. However, he later acknowledged the presence of orientalis in the area and examination of much data, specimens and eggs from this era appear to indicate that mistakes were made''


So if we discount Ushakov's seemingly dodgy record there are actually more records of the mentioned hybrids breeding than actual 'pure' SBC. Strange indeed.

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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 21:08   #422
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BirdGuides have now declared that it's an EC;

<<Latest photographs indicate that this bird is indeed an Eurasian Curlew most probably a 1st-winter male www.magikbirds.com/image.asp ? title id=1008 >>
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Old Friday 8th October 2004, 21:34   #423
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cheers Trev

2 view u may need to go to Dick's site direct - just knock off the stuff after.com
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Old Saturday 9th October 2004, 03:51   #424
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The excellent new photos at ww.magikbirds.com have convinced me that the bird is a Eurasian Curlew (and hence presumably a first winter male). Pity, I was looking forward to setting a twitching record...I'll just have to console myself with trapping a few Arctic and Dusky Warblers.

I would add that this has been an excellent thread which has saved me a lot of money - I will definately be viewing more often.

Mike
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Old Saturday 9th October 2004, 08:57   #425
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Right before everyone jumps on my case I'm not saying SBC never existed...

BUT... there is a previous of example of a very rare and little known wader.. known only from its wintering grounds..... that eventually turned out to be a hybrid... Not being wholly up to date with Cox's Sandpiper records....do they have a different migration route to their parents?
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