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Needletail sp., Guangxi, China (1 Viewer)

Barbets48

Well-known member
Yesterday (2/1) I was birding a forest trail in Baise, Guangxi when I saw a swift-like bird overhead. House Swifts are common in the city, but I quickly realized this was not a swift at all, but a needletail! The distinctive white patch on the undertail was prominent, along with the thick body shape. The bird actually glided around for a few minutes. Having only seen White-throated Needletail once before in Beihai, I wasn't aware that a winter needletail in GX might actually be a pretty unusual occurrence (which seems to be the case based on the eBird records), nor did I know that Silver-backed Needletail is also a possibility. I did note a light back patch on the bird while watching it (which I didn't know existed in both species), and I would say that the throat though lighter than the body was not as strikingly white as the vent area, though I wasn't paying as much attention as I should.

I've attached some poor photos and video clips in case any silhouettes could be helpful in IDing it to species level. But I also am curious whether based on range whether one species would be more likely than the other at this time of year?

Thanks,
Mike
 

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Yesterday (2/1) I was birding a forest trail in Baise, Guangxi when I saw a swift-like bird overhead. House Swifts are common in the city, but I quickly realized this was not a swift at all, but a needletail! The distinctive white patch on the undertail was prominent, along with the thick body shape. The bird actually glided around for a few minutes. Having only seen White-throated Needletail once before in Beihai, I wasn't aware that a winter needletail in GX might actually be a pretty unusual occurrence (which seems to be the case based on the eBird records), nor did I know that Silver-backed Needletail is also a possibility. I did note a light back patch on the bird while watching it (which I didn't know existed in both species), and I would say that the throat though lighter than the body was not as strikingly white as the vent area, though I wasn't paying as much attention as I should.

I've attached some poor photos and video clips in case any silhouettes could be helpful in IDing it to species level. But I also am curious whether based on range whether one species would be more likely than the other at this time of year?

Thanks,
Mike
White-vented Needletail - you can see the clean white, and well-defined throat patch in the images. An intriguing date and location. Presumably nudipes rather than nominate.
 
An intriguing date and location.

Sometimes things like this happen, and you wonder why. We saw (and photographed) a single Barn Swallow on 3 January 2019 in Nara City (near Osaka). Without the photographs, I would have thought it was simply a visual ID error on my part. You wonder what it was feeding on? Perhaps there are most insects about than I think - I saw a ladybird walking along a path last week (24 January).

Warming is happening - the last three years have been equally the hottest ever here. January 2020 had an average temperature of 7ºC which was 1.2ºC warmer than the second hottest ever January. But January 2019 averaged only 4.7ºC and though midday temperatures of 10ºC+ were common, at night the minimum was usually around 0ºC.
 
NOT MY PIC - SEE COPYRIGHT

Used for comparison purposes.

So yes, judging by the colour and markings, I would say a White Throated Needletail is your bird
 

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I was going to post this after Paul responded but thought better of it.

'FWIW, even on these shots, I'd expect the white throat to be more obvious if it were White-throated?'
 
I was going to post this after Paul responded but thought better of it.

'FWIW, even on these shots, I'd expect the white throat to be more obvious if it were White-throated?'
My interpretation of the throat is that it appears in at least some of the photos to be comparable in colour and definition to undertail coverts. My experience of Silver-backed is that on poorer/distant views the throat looks dark.
 
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