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Swiss Trip Unidentified Birds

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Old Saturday 29th August 2015, 21:59   #1
Ornitheologist
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Swiss Trip Unidentified Birds

Thanks to some great advice on this forum I have just had a brilliant visit to Switzerland. Highlights on the birding front were Black Woodpecker, plenty of Nutcracker, Alpine Swift (at Bern just as you said), Citril Finch, Alpine Chough, and the icing on the cake - a juvenile Lammergeier.

I just have a few of questions;

1) At Neiderhorn at about 8:30am there was a small flock of bunting sized birds numbering 6-8 feeding in the grass. They immediately looked like Twite but obviously could not be. They were darker overall than twite but did have similar steaking on their chests. They would not allow me to get close enough to get any detail. They had a call that was a 'sip sip'. The bill was narrow and pointed and from the rear they were reminiscent of House Sparrow but less red. Alpine Accentor? But this seems too low down at this time of year. Can anyone help?

2) On the way up to Neiderhorn on the cable car just below Mittelstation Vorsass there was a very pale grouse sized bird sitting on bottom branch of conifer on outside edge of copse of conifer trees. The only thing I can think of is Hazel Hen. It appeared more pale than the Collins Birds Guide book suggests for Hazel Hen. I am familiar with Ptarmigan and know it was not that. Any suggestions?

3) On the last night I was walking through the woods at the back of Manor Farm, Unterseen, and came across two owls in the dark. They were perched about 10 meters up in conifers and were about the size of a Jay/Nutcracker. Their wings were not overly long and were pale on the underside when flying. Their tails had a slight point to them as they flew. When perched they had some dark streaks on the chest. There were some calls just before I found them which were not Tawny Owl (I am familiar with them) so I have narrowed it down to Long-eared Owl (too big?) or Tengmal's Owl (too light?) I have attached a very poor picture if that helps.

Thank you for all your help - in anticipation.

David
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 13:01   #2
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You may want to ask a moderator to move this thread to the ID section so that more people will be aware of it, and respond.

As for the accentor and owl calls, have you checked xeno-canto?
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 13:08   #3
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Thanks. I will do.

David
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 13:19   #4
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For no.2 size may be an issue you have to resolve - have you considered female Black Grouse or even Pheasant?
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 13:57   #5
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Hi Ornithologist, in number 1 the birds that called makeing the sip sip call notes makes me think of meadow Pipit When they fly over on migration usually flying south/sw in september which they do annually over my garden Along with skylarks the tailend of september perhaps earlier, into october along with meadow pipit.
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 14:47   #6
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Considered F Black Grouse and it was too light for that. I am familiar with Black Grouse so was quite sure it could not be that. Collins Bird Guide shows Hazel Hen to be paler but I guess I can never rule out paler/albino Pheasant/Female Black Grouse.
The habitat seemed wrong for Pheasant and I never saw one all week anywhere.
Thanks for the input.
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 14:54   #7
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Have you looked at Linnet for the first bird.

As for owl Long Eared or Tawny. Calls bit tricky this time of the year - go through xeno-canto for some 'real' life recordings in different situations....
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 14:58   #8
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The call did make me think of Meadow Pipit but they were too small and short legged. I did see Linnet lower down at around 1500ft but this was much higher 6000ft ish and there was definitely no individuals with any read on them. Also definitely too dark for linnet. My gut said Alpine Accentor but it didnt all add up. Not having seen Alpine Accentor before I wasnt sure.

Thanks for your suggestions.
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 15:44   #9
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1) Sounds like either Linnet or maybe Redpolls?

2) Pheasant is highly unlikely. Black Grouse, Capercaillie and Hazel hen are all in the area. Have you checked pictures of juvenile Hazel hens? They can appear rather pale.

3) Tengmalm's is very unlikely, they usually only occur in the mountain forests higher up. Calls can be tricky at this time of year. Tawny Owl is by far the most common owl in the area, Long-eared rather scarce. The image actually looks very much like a Tawny to me.

Good to hear that you enjoyed your stay.

André
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Old Sunday 30th August 2015, 18:07   #10
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My tips: 1) meadow pipts (characteristic would be very bouncy flight, 'as about to fall down') or water pipits, 2) buzzard or another raptor, and 3) Long-eared Owl. For the latter, definite would be less cropped photo, showing long wings of Long-eared Owl.

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