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Fantastic Phalaropes

The other week a windblown waif was occupying one of the sea pools up on the coast.

I adore these specialised waders. A popular little chap this Grey Phalarope swam and bobbed ‘cork like’ around brackish water just on the landward side of the shingle ridge. I guess the pool was not dissimilar to the one he was born on earlier this year, perhaps in Iceland or more likely further into the Arctic Circle; Greenland or Svalbard maybe. As I watched him he fed on tiny fish fry, insects and small crustaceans. For such a tiny bird they are surprisingly pelagic for most of the year only coming ashore to breed, if sick or when pushed ashore by storms.

This is a bird that has probably never seen a human before and was as a consequence quite tame.

Grey Phalarope 1

Grey Phalarope 2

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2 Responses to “Fantastic Phalaropes”


  1. November 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Carl – saw this one on Friday. Nice bird and very accomodating, views down to 4 feet or so. One thing I was not sure whether it was male/female and juvenile or adult. Can you help. Regards. Ian

    • November 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

      Good question Ian. Normally Juvenile Grey Phalaropes would show a lot of dark feathering in the mantle and the covert feathers. In this bird that was not the case so at first glance it would appear to be an adult. However, there are a few dark feathers in the mantle. In addition the head pattern matches a juvenile with a dark ear panel – the adult would have more of a lighter smudge. Also the flight feathers appear to be fresh juvenile feathers. In BWP the comment is rather ambiguous regarding juvenile moult stating that head and body feathering can be delayed until as late as December for birds lingering in the northern hemisphere.
      I suspect it’s a juvenile bird in an advanced state of moult. As for sexing – I wouldn’t like to say. If you got really close … the females have longer eyelashes :0)


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