Here are the answers for challenge #38
Overall the scores were pretty good with an average of 4.9/7, or 70.2%.
1. Grey-backed Cisticola
- Most of you never had any problems with this one. This Cisticola has streaking on the breast so should only be between Wailing, Cloud and Grey-backed. The tail is too long for Cloud, and Cloud has a streaked, not rufous crown. Wailing has more warm buff underparts, whereas this bird has greyish underparts. The only Cisticola with streaked, greyish underparts is Grey-backed Cisticola. This photo was taken at Rooi Els, Western Cape.
2.Little Bittern (juv)
- This one gave quite a few problems. Some people said Eurasian (Great) Bittern, but that is a much bigger looking bird with clear, conspicuous moustachial stripes. It also has a much more heavily marked back, and also you would never see a Eurasian Bittern perched out in the open like this. They always remain in very dense reeds. It's also not a juv Green-backed Heron, which is not marked on the back like this bird, and is much darker in colour. Photo taken in Nylsvlei NR, Limpopo.
3.Southern Black Flycatcher
- No problems here. I though I could catch some of you by hiding the tail, but you were all too smart. Photo taken at Crocodile Bridge, Kruger NP
4.Pallid Harrier (juv)
- This one was quite tricky. Most of you at least put it in the Harrier family, which is good, but here is where it gets tough, because juvenile Harriers are notoriously difficult to ID. First of all it can't be African Marsh Harrier, as that has fully barred underwings, and it can't be Western Marsh Harrier, as that has no barring on the underwings. It's also the wrong colour for both the Marsh Harriers. Next it can't be a juv Black Harrier, because that has distinct black streaking on its breast. That leaves us with the Ring-tail Harriers, which is a term that refers to female and juv Montagu's, Pallid and Hen Harrier (which we won't consider here, as you don't get it in Southern Africa). The first thing to do when dealing with Ring-tail Harriers is to put it into an age group, and see if we are dealing with an adult female, or a juvenile bird. Adult female Montagu's and Pallids have streaking underneath, so we are therefore dealing with a juvenile bird here. Some field guides mention the amount of bars on the tail as a distinguishing factor, but this rule is inaccurate and must be ignored. Two distinguishing characteristics that make this a juvenile Pallid as opposed to Montagu's include; the pale collar, and also the fact that the barring goes all the way to the end of the primaries, whereas juvenile Montagu's only has minimal barring on the primaries that doesn't extend all the way to the tips of the wings. Photo taken on H10, Kruger NP.
- No problems here, everyone got this one. The combination of the long, decurved bill and short, white-tipped tail are the clincher here. I thought I might catch some of you by having a picture of it perched in a tree, because this bird is a ground dwelling species and very rarely perches in trees and bushes. Photo taken in Karoo NP.
6.Lesser Masked Weaver
- Also not many problems here. The combination of the slender, flesh-coloured bill, pale eye and greyish legs mean this can only be Lesser Masked Weaver. Photo taken at Lower Sabie Kruger NP.
- This bird caused the most problems. I think maybe I was a bit too mean by not posting a picture that shows the bird's back, as a lot of people answered with Plain-backed or Buffy Pipit, but then it might have been a bit too easy. I am happy that none of you answered African Pipit, as there are a lot of reasons why it can't be that. A lot of people answered Buffy Pipit, but that is a much more slender, dainty looking Pipit, the same size and shape as African Pipit, whereas this bird is too heavy looking to be Buffy. Buffy Pipit also stands much more upright, and carries its weight in its chest, unlike this bird. Buffy would also have a more distinct buffy supercilium. A lot of you also answered Plain-backed Pipit, but that has a yellowish base to the bill (although this isn't a 100% accurate feature to use when identifying Pipits). Plain-backed also has a more well defined malar stripe and whitish supercilium. Plain-backed also has a colder grey-brown colouring. The fact that it's perched up should also give a clue to this being Long-billed, as this is one of the characteristic behaviours of Long-billed Pipit. The combination of the very robust build, very weak supercilium, weak facial markings and pinkish mandible all point towards Long-billed Pipit. Photo taken in Pilanesberg GR.