Grey Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius

Startopsend Reservoir - 7th September 2008

Photo copyright Ben Miller

Photos copyright Mike Collard

Hot on the heels of the Weston Turville bird, another Grey Phalarope was found in the Bucks section of Startopsend Reservoir by Dave Bilcock  at about 9am.  It stayed until 2pm when it flew off to the west.  It was enjoyed by many local birders some of whom managed to see it both Herts and Bucks.  As can be seen from the top photo it was showing extremely well!

There are several dangers that birds such as Grey Phalarope are exposed to when on inland waters.  Gerry Studd noticed that the Weston Turville individual (clearly a different bird from the Startops bird) was spooked from what was considered most likely to be an attack from a fish.  It raised it's left leg in the air and it was not long before it flew to the far end of the reservoir and then soon after it left.  Several birders saw a similar event occur with the Startops bird when it was apparently grabbed from beneath, presumably by a Pike, which caused it to be partially submerged for a split second.  It did get free but promptly left the site (at about 2pm. 

What is thought to be the Startops bird was rediscovered at nearby Wilstone Reservoir at about 4pm.  Just before 6pm the bird was seen to take off and was promptly taken by one of the two Hobbies that were still present.  I guess Grey Phalaropes are not used to Pike or Hobbies!  A sad end for a bird that can survive Atlantic storms.

Weston Turville Reservoir - 3rd-4th September 2008

Photo copyright Mike Wallen

Photo copyright Mike Collard

The adult and juvenile birds swimming together shortly before the adult departed.  The difference in plumage is clear to see with the adult being much paler.

Photo copyright Mike Wallen

The adult Grey Phalarope


The following four photos are of the juvenile Grey Phalarope.

Photos copyright Mike Collard

Photo copyright Ben Miller

Photo copyright Gerry Studd


Two Grey Phalaropes (an adult and a juvenile) were found late afternoon by Weston Turville birder Henry Mayer-GrossThe grapevine soon rolled into action and 20+ birders managed so see at least one of the birds that evening.  At about 6:15pm a  group of the more local birders had already gathered and were watching both birds when they took to flight.  One continued on it's way while the juvenile fortunately returned to the reservoir to continue feeding, enabling a birders from further afield to get a valuable county tick.  It remained until 12:30pm the next day when it was seen to fly off.

There have been eight prior records of this species in the county.  There was also a report of a Grey Phalarope at Foxcote Reservoir on the morning of 4th September 2008.  Unfortunately it only stayed briefly allowing only Phil Tizzard to see it.  Other Grey Phalaropes were reported inland and on the coast on the 3rd, 4th and 5th September.

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