Wednesday, August 06, 2008

It's not just the colour

There's an interesting article in this quarter's copy of Birds magazine (RSPB). Written by an artist it describes how colour is relative to the other colours around it. In some circumstances to make a blackbird look 'true' you would use violet to paint it. It goes on to talk about the use of drawings and photo's in field guides, and describes the effects light can have on how a bird is represented. Anyone who does read this blog more than once may know that a couple of posts ago I misidentified a juvenile stonechat. I was relieved by the correction - I knew the wings weren't right, but couldn't place the bird and to all other intents - movement and profile I thought it was a juvenile robin. Time has confirmed the identification ......
but looking back through my field guides the only picture of a young stonechat would still not have led me to the correct identification. You can't beat experience. Bill Oddie says jays are the most misidentified UK birds - depending on the posture - flight or sitting, and the light the prominent colours can appear to be black and white, pink or beige, or even blue. Yet most guides will have a nice profile view where all are appropriately presented and the identification may not be obvious.
This weekend this rather cute reed bunting was posing in the wind.

From a second angle there is far more white visible on it's back than in any of my field guides, but I don't think I'm wrong again!
Google images can be a good option if you have an idea of the bird - assuming others posting pictures have it right - and the stonechat is certainly better seen there than in my books.
Insects are the bane of my life - just too many! Some flowers were swarming this weekend with what I suspect are some kind of sawfly, but no joy at labelling yet.
Hoverflies - again books of limited value I find - not worked this one out yet. Possibly Meliscaeva cinctella?The gallery on the Hoverfly recording scheme website has helped in the past, but not so far with this one. Still - trying to work it out is half the fun isn't it?

The wetlands are in full flow with second broods, and some of the birds seem to be habituating a bit more to visitors. The coot was still a bit cagey,
but my favourite little footy arses (check out one of my very early posts, or read Birds Britannica) were showing quite well, and even feeding in the open - just a little far off, and sadly into the sun.

As always check out the photo gallery - see links -
for larger and better quality views

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