Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Tale of Three Phalaropes - Sal del Rey, October 31, 2010

Dan Jones found all three species of Phalarope at Sal del Rey, a tract of the Lower Rio Grande National Wildlife Refuge, on October 30. I went up October 31 to see what I could find. When I got to the refuge and walked in, Dan called me over and showed me the birds. Here's the Red Phalarope on the left, with a Wildon's on the right. Note the white crown on the Red, and the very small cheek patch on the red. The Red is on the left.
Here's the Red again. It's a long way to the birds and a scope is required to get any kind of a look at them. These pictures are digiscoped with a Swarovski and a 50 mm lens - not ideal conditions. Morning is best for low wind and good light. Today, the birds came closer with time.

Red Phalarope on the left, Red-necked Phalarope on the right. The distinctive streaks on the mantle are evident on the smaller and smaller-headed Red-necked Phalarope. Here they've switched sites, the Red on the right with its shorter, thicker bill and whiter forehead.
From the rear the Red Phalarope has a very dark crown with a narrow nape stripe,with the color of the stripe becoming paler closer to the bird's back.

Red left, Wilson's right