Righty-ho. Here we go with the answers to Challenge #22/2013. This turned out to be a nice challenge (not so sure about you but it was for me). I didn't expect it to be too difficult but it turned out to have been rather tougher than I thought - which is great.
I received 17 entries of which not one had all the answers correct. In fact, the best score for this challenge was 8/10 (well done Dabchick) and the average score was 5.6/10. Also, none of the birds were correctly identified by all participants and the best scoring bird was number 5 with a score of 16/17.
The worst scoring bird was number 6 which scored only 1/17 and I bet the majority of you didn't even give this one much consideration.
So, let's get down to the birds:Bird 1: Bare-cheeked Babbler
(identified by 4/17). Of course this one relied to some extent on a bit of gut feel and intuition to arrive at the family. The dark underwings and tail contrasting with the very pale body plumage might have pointed you towards the babblers. A fair number of you got that far and then identified it as Southern Pied Babbler. The rufous markings on the nape and the off-white wash to the undersides identifies it as Bare-cheeked though. While not diagnostic, it is also worth noting that the birds sitting so tightly together and preening themselves (and each other, but the picture doesn't show that), is rather typical of this species.Bird 2: Green-backed Heron
(identified by 15/17). Immature Black-crowned Night Heron is not a bad guess but that would have had a red or orange eye.Bird 3: Pale-winged Starling
(identified by 15/17). I was hoping that the hint of red in the flight feathers would make you jump to the conclusion of Red-winged Starling but very few of you fell for that trap. Of course the orange eye is the dead giveaway here which would have been dark in the Red-winged Starling.Bird 4: African Cuckoo-Hawk
(identified by 11/17). Most of the incorrect answers were for African Goshawk which, again, is not a bad guess as it does have a superficial resemblance to African Cuckoo Hawk, especially when the face is not visible. The broadly spaced and bold barring on the belly is a key feature of ACH and also that bold blck trailing edge of the underwing.Bird 5: Black-and-white Flycatcher
(identified by 16/17). So this is the best performer of the day with only a single incorrect answer received. There are many reasons why it's not a Bulbul but I guess the yellow eye, white throat and red back are already three features that each rule out any of the local Bulbuls.Bird 6: Barn Swallow
(identified by 1/17). I bet no-one expected this one to be the real stumper of the challenge
Notice the blue tinge on the mantle which rules out any of the Martins. Once you've realised that it's a Swallow, the white (as oppoed to brown) forehead and the broader breast band sets it apart from White-throated Swallow.Bird 7: African Harrier-Hawk
(identified by 3/17). I expected this to be one of the tougher birds for the challenge. I deliberately messed up the exposure a bit to remove even more plumage detail because I wanted to force you to pay more attention to the shape and proportions than to the plumage. The long, alomst pigeon-like, head and the long rounded tail would hopefully have prompted you to think Eurasian Honey-Buzzard but those bigger, paddle-like, wings helps identifying it as an immature African Harrier-Hawk. Few texts really deal with it but I suspect that the majority of Honey-Buzzard misidentifications are of immature African Harrier-Hawks.Bird 8: White-browed Scrub-Robin
(identified by 15/17). This is where the bonus point was hidden and anyone who told me that it was of the ovamboensis subspecies would have bagged it and 7/17 did. Of course, this bird is tryng to trick you into thinking that it's a Kalahari Scrub-Robin with that plain breast but notice the very prominent white wing bars. Kalahari Scrub-Robin does not have any white on the wing and this is a very useful feature that you should always look for. A few challenges back there was a Kalahari Scrub-Robin shown from behind. I noticed that the rufous in the tail was discussed and some other salient features but no mention of this very important and diagnostic feature.Bird 9: Long-tailed Widowbird
(identified by 2/17). Let's not fool ourselves, these non-breeding ploceids are very tricky birds to ID. At the same time though, I suspect we don't bother too much with them as we know that next summer we'll see plenty of easy ones again - unlike the Larks and Pipits which we study in great detail so we can ID them. I received a number of answers for Southern Red Bishop but they have a distinct yellow wash to the supercilium and throat. Notice this bird's pale cream eye brow and throat and also the ring around the eye. These are features that point to non-breeding Long-tailed Widowbird. Also, the wings have these very dark feathers with buff edges, typical of the species. Red-collared Widowbird has a much smaller bill.Bird 10: Namaqua Sandgrouse
(identified by 14/17). The only other real contender would be female Double-banded Sandgrouse. Yellow-throated Sandgrouse has a distinct yellow face and throat (both male and femae) so shouldn't be confused. Female Burchell's also has a yellow face but both of those species have a distinct plumage that shouldn't be confused with Namaqua or Double-banded. This bird is told apart from female Double-banded Sandgrouse by the blue ring around the eye as opposed yellow. With a better view (from the front) an easier feature would have been the neck that is streaked vertically as opposed to barred horizontally.
There you have it. I hope you enjoyed it. I certainly enjoy it a little better when you guys suffer so forgive me if I relish a lekker tough challenge from time to time Read more about:
1. Bare-cheeked Babbler unfortunately not on the Bird Index yet.
2. Green-backed Heron
3. Pale-winged Starling
4. African Cuckoo Hawk
5. Black-and-white Flycatcher unfortunately not on the Bird Index yet.
6. Barn Swallow
7. African Harrier-Hawk
8. White-browed Scrub-Robin
9. Long-tailed Widowbird
10. Namaqua Sandgrouse