Posts Tagged ‘Mystery bird


Mystery Bird the Finale

To conclude the mystery bird for 2012 we need to discuss the bird pictured in the December mystery Bird post. Well what can I say; it’s obviously a Lark, and with that huge hat of a peaked crown it could only be one species … Crested Lark. Still very rare within the UK this photo was taken in Hungry during an autumn visit in 2005. There were both votes for Skylark and Crested Lark.

Jan and Phil Thorpe managed nine correct answers during the course of the year but more importantly had four consecutive correct entries. This puts them at the top of the board: well done Phil and Jan. A small token of reward has already been despatched to them.

So what of Mystery Bird for 2013. I think we’ll give it a rest for a while and maybe reintroduce it at some point in the future. In the meantime here’s a picture of a Skylark for comparison with the Crested.



Mystery Bird December

All the answers for the November Mystery Bird fell into three camps; American Golden Plover, Golden Plover and Grey Plover. The answer is in the underwing.

Prior to American Golden Plover and Pacific Golden Plover being split into two separate species they were regarded as one and the same species, they were conspecific; the ‘Lesser Golden Plover’; One of the identification features of ‘Lesser Golden Plover’ and therefore of American (and Pacific) is they have dusky grey underwings.

Grey Plover may be eliminated as it would show the blackest of armpits in flight. The bright white underwing of the mystery bird dictates it must be a Golden Plover. This individual was photographed during late summer this year in the eye field at Cley Marshes in Norfolk.

This month’s photograph, the last one, is pictured below. As usual send me your entry on e-mail to

Mystery Bird December


Mystery Bird – November

Every single entry for Octobers Mystery Bird was correct. It was of course a Great Skua. The wing flashes, chocolate ginger plumage and distinctive brutish build were a dead giveaway. Taken in August the photograph was shot on this year’s Dogger Bank Pelagic.

This month’s photograph is below. Make your entry as usual by e-mailing me on


Mystery Bird October

Only one correct entry last month – well done Keiren Allinson. By far the most entries identified this small wader as a Temminks Stint. Other entries were for Grey Plover and Little Stint. Although our bird has greenish pale legs it is far too bright for a Temminck’s. It is in fact a Least Sandpiper. An American Peep – Peeps equate to the old world Stints. This bird was photographed recently in Tadoussac, Canada where a flock of some 4000 Semi-palmated Sandpipers that landed on rocks around our feet had a smattering of Least Sandpipers among them.

This month’s Mystery Bird is a little easier. Entries by e-mail to


Mystery Bird – August

Everyone who entered got last month’s mystery ‘bird’ correct. Yes, it was a Painted Lady Butterfly. Not too many of them around this year unlike 2009 when we were overrun with them. The photo was taken at Beeston Regis in Norfolk during that invasion.

This month we continue the non bird theme. Take a look at the photograph below. As normal send in your entry to



Mystery Bird – July

The drooped wings, the grey body feathering all pointed to Cuckoo and that’s exactly what it was. Every single person that entered last month got it right. Below is a picture of the same bird taken (badly) by digiscoping at Lakenheath RSPB in Suffolk earlier this year.

We move on now to July’s mystery bird.

When the warm summer months are here quite often bird watchers look elsewhere for entertainment. This is reflected in this month’s mystery competition. As I stated back in January it may not always be birds we consider. Give me your entry by e-mail to and the answer will be given next month.


June’s Mystery Bird

Well the mystery bird in May caused a few problems with nobody getting to the correct answer; although a few were close. That still leaves Phil and Jan Thorp in the lead with five consecutive answers. It is in fact a second year American Herring Gull. Identification features are subtle and adults cannot be told reliably from Herring Gulls. The clinching feature is the bill which could easily be placed on a 1st winter Glaucous Gull. The article by Pat Lonergan and Killian Mullarney cannot be bettered on identification so I’ll not try. I photographed the individual in Lerwick harbour on Shetland some years ago.

Junes Mystery bird is a hidden teaser of a bird I photographed (badly) earlier this month in Suffolk. As usual e-mail me with your answer.


April Mystery Bird

Most people’s perception of Gull identification is perhaps best summed up by one entrants submission “It’s a Bl**dy Gull”

Gulls can certainly be a challenge but March’s mystery bird should not pose too many problems if features are looked at carefully.

The gull is obviously one of the white winged gulls either Glaucous or Iceland. The other options of Kumlein’s or Viking Gull (a hybrid Glaucous x Herring Gull) would show darker edges to some primaries. Glaucous Winged Gull a relatively new addition to the British List would show greyer primaries.

On perched gulls the ratio of the bill length to eye diameter is conclusive (Iceland has a bill under 4x the eye diameter while Glaucous is over 4x quite often 5x or more). The difference between Glaucous and Iceland Gulls can also be done simply on structure. Iceland is a smaller more compact Gull with a relatively shorter bill. Glaucous is a brute of a gull with a big head, bill and fierce expression. In flight it would look full-chested and bigger bodied than Iceland. Our bird is indeed a daintier, slimmer bodied benign looking Iceland Gull photographed appropriately in Iceland during February.

All answers were for Iceland or Glaucous with twenty two answers for Iceland Gull. Phil and Jan Thorpe did it again and now have four successive correct answers. Once again well done.

There has been an invasion of white winged gulls into the country this last winter and I’m hoping on our Scotland trips this month we catch up with one or two as they move back north.

April’s Mystery bird is pictured below and should be quite easy. Please submit the id by email to The rules of the competition can be found in a previous posting here. Give it a go … it doesn’t cost anything and you could easily win as successively correct answers mount up!


March Mystery Bird

Raptors are difficult to identify at the best of times especially when perched. It is good therefore that every single entry for last month’s mystery bird named a raptor. It is just a question of which one! All answers fell into three camps; Osprey, Hen Harrier and Rough legged Buzzard.

The picture shows white in the tail/rump area. Given the angle it is difficult to tell if this is actually on the rump as it would be in a Harrier or on the tail as shown by a Rough legged Buzzard. All the possible Harriers with white in the rump; Montague’s, Pallid and Hen are all slim birds with varying slight builds. In fact Harriers can sometimes be attributed to species simply on their structure. Our bird is bulky and broad in the beam and shows a lot of white not a small patch as it would show in the case of a Harrier. It is in fact a Rough legged Buzzard. Photographed in North east Norfolk this winter this individual came into roost in the same general area each night attracted to the area by the cache of Rabbits in a nearby warren. Another photo of the same bird is below.

Six people got the right answer. One of the six entries was submitted by Phil and Jan Thorpe who maintain their record of correct answers and now have three in succession. Well done.

March’s Mystery bird is also below and depicts a Gull. Please submit the id by email to The rules of the competition can be found in a previous posting here. Give it a go … it doesn’t cost anything and you could easily win as successively correct answers mount up!


Mystery Bird February

We had a good number of answers for the January Mystery bird. Over 60% of them were correct, with all other votes being for Widgeon, Teal and Gadwall.

The sharply attenuated rear end should give a strong indication the bird was a Pintail. There are no indications of white in the flank indicating Teal or Widgeon and the bird shows long dark centred scapulars so typical of a drake Pintail. This individual was photographed at Cley Marshes last December. A shot of the same bird as it emerged from below the water is below.

Phil and Jan Thorpe are now in the lead having two consecutive answers correct. Well done you two.

For February we have at last left the water and this month’s mystery bird is below. Click here to submit your entry or send an e-mail to

For the rules regarding entry see here.

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Feb 2023


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