• BirdForum is the net's largest birding community dedicated to wild birds and birding, and is absolutely FREE!

    Register for an account to take part in lively discussions in the forum, post your pictures in the gallery and more.

Andalucian Hemipode in Andalucia?? (1 Viewer)

James Lowther

Well-known member
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..

James
 

jurek

Well-known member
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.
 

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
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.
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
I seem to remember hearing (maybe from John Butler) that there are plans for a re-introduction scheme in Donana.

Steve
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
Steve Lister said:
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)?
 

Motmot

Eduardo Amengual
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.
 

James Lowther

Well-known member
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

3:)

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.
 

Steve G

RAINBIRDER
jurek said:
?? 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.
 

cinclus

Active member
I add that in Italy it was present in Sicily until the 1910-1920, then it became extinct because of hunting.
Bye

Umberto
 

cuckooroller

Well-known member
James Lowther said:
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.
 

Jane Turner

Well-known member
Steve G said:
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 :eek:)


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
 

RGoater

New member
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
 

Edward

Umimmak
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?
 

birdboybowley

Well-known member.....apparently so ;)
Supporter
England
Hey Rick

Easiest way would be to just copy the text and paste it into the reply box below
 

RGoater

New member
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)
 

jurek

Well-known member
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.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top