Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)

 Adult Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius) at Hove, East Sussex - January 2014

OTHER NAMES: Red Phalarope
Weight: 55g
Length: 20-23cm
Wingspan: 43cm
NO UK STATUS / IUCN Red List Status: Least Concern

The grey phalarope is a passage migrant that comes through the UK mainly in winter.  Although known as the grey phalarope in the UK, this is based on its Winter plumage which is the only time we see it here, and thus, in America, it is somewhat confusingly known as the red phalarope.  The three species of phalaropes form a strange group of birds - unlike most waders they are pelagic - and spend much of their lives far out to sea eating plankton from the surface of the ocean; they float on the surface of the water more like a gull or auk than a typical wader.  This particular bird had decided to settle on a paddling pool in a park in Brighton, and, with what I have heard is the typical boldness of the species, was entirely oblivious to humans who it would get within a few meters of it.

Related Species:
Order: Charadriiformes
Family: Scolopacidae
Genus: Phalaropus
Subspecies: None - monotypic

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - A scarce passage migrant (around 200 birds)
 - A single bird seen at Rutland Water and a single bird at Hove in January 2014,

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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