OK then, time for the answers to challenge 28. A total of 13 'mites took part. The average score was 6.8/10 and two 'mites pulled a 10/10 (well done Dabchick and Ladybirder). Interestingly, half of the birds were correctly identified by 10 or more 'mites but not a single bird was identified correctly by everybody.
Let's get straight into the answers and ID issues:Bird 1: Red-headed Weaver
This bird posed little challenge and 12/13 'mites identified it correctly. Of course it's either a female or non-breeding male.Bird 2: Water Thick-knee
Also, fairly straight forward ID. I deliberately chose a picture that hides the horizontal wing bars and grey panels which most people rely on to ID this bird but what is visible of the upperparts still shows enough streaking (as opposed to spotting) to eiliminate Spotted Thick-knee.Bird 3: African Wood-Owl
I didn't really expect this one to throw you off and it didn't. One incorrect answer received for Pearl-spotted Owlet which can be ruled out on a number of features, not least of which the barring on the breast and belly which would have been streaked in Pearl-spotted. In reality though, I doubt anyone would confuse these two species when faced with a field identification so no need to worry too much about diagnostic features.Bird 4: Red-capped Lark
This was one of the worse performers and, of the incorrect answers received, only one (Fawn-coloured Lark) was repeated so I'm not really sure what ID features to compare against other species. The heavy bill already rules out any Pipit. While some races of Fawn-coloured Lark can show a more reddish colour, the colour is always uniform over most of the upperparts. To have a bird with a red crown contrasting like this with the rest of the upperpart colouration can only be a Red-capped Lark.
The reason this bird poses such a challenge is because the red shoulder patches are not visible and because it is of the C. c. spleniata race which only occurs in the north-west of Namibia (this one was photographed in Etosha). These birds are markedly paler than their eastern counterparts. Well done to those who got it right. I expected this to be one of the tougher ones of the week.Bird 5: Red Phalarope (a.k.a Grey Phalarope)
Another bad performer. If the general shape and plumage of the bird didn't give it away, the facial pattern should immediately tell you that it's a Phalarope. Once you're on to the family, the length of the bill rules out Red-necked Phalarope which has a much thinner and more needle-like bill. I suspect it is the facial pattern that lead to one incorrect answer of Gull-billed Tern but the bill is way off and also the general body shape and the black primaries. For these same reasons it's not a Sanwich Tern either. I'd have to be honest that I can't account for that apparent white tip to the bill. I would chalk it down to the bad quality of the picture Bird 6: Short-toed Rock-Thrush
This bird, along with the next one, were the worst performers of the week. I'm not surprised about the next one but I half expected most of you to get this one correct. All of you identified it correctly as a Rock-Thrush but most of you named it Cape Rock-Thrush. If this was the nominate race of Short-toed Rock-Thrush it would probably have been impossible to separate from Cape in a picture like this but this is the M. b. pretoriae subspecies which shows that distinct silver forehead.Bird 7: Southern Banded Snake-Eagle
The other worst performer which is probably no surprise. The most common incorrect answer was for African Cuckoo-Hawk which would have grey head, not brown. More noticeably though, it would not have had such a big, round head which is typical of the Snake-Eagles. Some of you got to the Snake-Eagle family but opted for Western Banded Snake-Eagle of which the barring on the undersides would have been far less pronounced and also restricted to the belly, not extend up the breast like this one.Bird 8: Broad-tailed Warbler (a.k.a Fan-tailed Grassbird)
While Little Rush-Warbler does have a heavy tail compared to other wetland warblers, it is nothing as heavy as this, particularly not at the base.Bird 9: Red-faced Cisticola
The plain back narrows this Cistic down to a hand full from where it is relatively easy to arrive at Red-faced when you observe the light rufous ear coverts. All of the incorrect answers received were for Cisticolas of which the backs would have been streaked or Namaqua Warbler which would have had a longer tail and a finely streaked breast.Bird 10: Common Fiscal
Yes, you didn't let the white eyebrow throw you off. You all remembered that some Common Fiscals have that white eyebrow. One incorrect answer received for Lesser Grey Shrike which would have had a black facial mask and no white eyebrow.
As a matter of interest, I should have offered a bonus point in this challenge and award it to anyone who gave me the correct subspecies - because none of you would have received it
Hehe, those of you who made reference to the subspecies all mentioned L. c. subcoronatus. It is true, subcoronatus does have a white eyebrow but they still have the regular black crown and hind neck of the nominate collaris. This one you will notice has a grey crown and hind neck which identifies it as L. c. aridicolus. This one was also photographed in Etosha.Read more about:
1. Red-headed Weaver
2. Water Thick-knee
3. African Wood-Owl
4. Red-capped Lark
5. Red Phalarope unfortunately not on the Bird Index yet.
6. Short-toed Rock-Thrush
7. Southern Banded Snake-Eagle
8. Broad-tailed Warbler unfortunately not on the Bird Index yet.
9. Red-faced Cisticola
10. Common Fiscal