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Due to heavy reconstruction of this webpage, this blog is temporary suspended to renew in this summer, it will be updated again after late-autumn, thank you for your visits in these 9 years.

30 April 2016

Birds in Guinea

From left to right :
African Fish Eagle (吼海鵰) ; African Jacana (長腳雉鴴)
Guinea (2001)
5th January, 2016. Conakry

African fish eagle is a large bird, and the female, at 3.2-3.6 kg is larger than the male, at 2-2.5 kg. This is typical of sexual dimorphism in birds of prey. Males usually have a wingspan of about 2 m, while females have wingspans of 2.4 m. The body length is 63–75 cm. The adult is very distinctive in appearance with a mostly brown body and large, powerful, black wings. The head, breast, and tail of African fish eagles are snow white, with the exception of the featherless face, which is yellow. The eyes are dark brown in colour. The hook-shaped beak, ideal for a carnivorous lifestyle, is yellow with a black tip. The plumage of the juvenile is brown in colour, and the eyes are paler compared to the adult. The feet have rough soles and are equipped with powerful talons in order to enable the eagle to grasp slippery aquatic prey. While this species mainly subsists on fish, it is opportunistic and may take a wider variety of prey such as waterbirds. Its distinctive cry is, for many, evocative of the spirit or essence of Africa. The call, shriller when uttered by males, is a weee-ah, hyo-hyo or a heee-ah, heeah-heeah.

African jacanas are conspicuous and unmistakable birds. They are about 30 cm long, but females are larger than males. They have chestnut upperparts with black wingtips, rear neck, and eyestripe. The underparts are also chestnut in the adults, only in juveniles they are white with a chestnut belly patch. The blue bill extends up as a coot-like head shield, and the legs and long toes are grey.

23 April 2016

Red-crowned Crane

Red-crowned Crane (丹頂鶴)
North Korea (2014)

29th Deember, 2015. Pyongyang

Red-crowned Crane (丹頂鶴)
North Korea (2014)

30th May, 2016. Pyongyang
Red-crowned cranes are named for a patch of red bare skin on the crown, which becomes brighter in the mating season. Overall, they are snow white in color with black on the wing secondaries, which can appear almost like a black tail when the birds are standing, but the real tail feathers are actually white. Males are black on the cheeks, throat and neck, while females are pearly gray in these spots. The bill is olive green to greenish horn, the legs are slaty to grayish black, and the iris is dark brown.

This species is among the largest cranes, typically measuring about 150 to 158 cm tall and 120–150 cm in length (from bill to tail tip). Across the large wingspan, the red-crowned crane measures 220–250 cm. Typical body weight can range from 7 to 10.5 kg, with males being slightly larger and heavier than females and weight ranging higher just prior to migration. On average, it is the heaviest crane species, although both the sarus and wattled crane can grow taller and exceed this species in linear measurements. The maximum known weight of the red-crowned crane is 15 kg. Among standard measurements, the wing chord measures 56–67 cm, the exposed culmen measures 13.5–16.7 cm and the tarsus measures 25.5–30.1 cm.

16 April 2016

Black-browed Albatross

Black-browed Albatross (黑眉信天翁)
Pitcairn Islands (2014)
6th January, 2016. Pitcairn Islands

Black-browed Albatross, also known as the Black-browed Mollymawk, is a medium sized, pelagic albatross, at 80–95cm long with a 200–240cm wingspan and a weight of 2.9– 4.7kg. Living up to 70 years, its colouring is a dark grey upper with white underparts. The bill is orange-yellow and its unique dark eye-stripe gives it its name.

Black-browed Albatross breeds on 12 islands throughout the southern oceans. There are an estimated 1,220,000 birds alive with 600,000 breeding pairs (2005). Colonies are very noisy as they bray and cackle to mark their territory. The bird feeds on fish, squid, crustaceans, carrion and fishery discards. This species normally nests on steep slopes covered with tussock grass. They lay one egg which is incubated by both parents and after hatching, the chicks take 120 to 130 days to fledge.

Until 2013, the IUCN classified this species as "endangered" due to a drastic reduction in population and nesting sites. The overall situation is grim, with a 67% decline over 64 years. The Black-browed Albatross is the most common bird killed by fisheries through increased long line and trawl fishing in the southern oceans.

From left to right :
Wandering Albatross (漂泊信天翁) ; Black-browed Albatross (黑眉信天翁)
Buller's Albatross (新西蘭信天翁)
Pitcairn Islands (2014)
6th January, 2016. Pitcairn Islands

9 April 2016

Yellow-billed Stork

Yellow-billed Stork (黃嘴䴉鸛)
Gambia (2011)

9th December, 2015. Tranqueras

Yellow-billed stork, sometimes also called the wood stork or wood ibis, is a large African wading stork species in the Ciconiidae family. It is widespread in regions south of the Sahara and also occurs in Madagascar.

The yellow-billed stork is closely related to 3 other species in the Mycteria genus: the American woodstork (Mycteria americana), the milky stork (Mycteria cinerea) and the painted stork (Mycteria leucocephala). It is classified as belonging to one clade with these 3 other species because they all display remarkable homologies in behavior and morphology. In one analytical study of feeding and courtship behaviours of the wood-stork family, MP Kahl attributed the same general ethology to all members of the Mycteria genus, with few species-specific variations. These four species are collectively referred to as the wood-storks, which should not be confused with one alternative common name (wood-stork) for the yellow-billed stork.

Before it was established that the yellow-billed stork was closely related to the American woodstork, the former was classified as belonging to the genus Ibis, together with the milky stork and painted stork. However, the yellow-billed stork has actually long been recognised as a true stork and along with the other 3 related stork species, it should not strictly be called an ibis.

2 April 2016

Wetlands of Uruguay

Scarlet-headed Blackbird (猩紅頭黑雀)
Uruguay (2015)

5th June, 2015. Punta del Este

Snowy Egret (美洲雪鷺)
Uruguay (2015)
5th June, 2015. Punta del Este

The spotlight will shine on Uruguay's spectacular Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland when it hosts the 12th Meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP12) in Punta del Este between 1-9 June.

The Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland is located on the eastern side of Uruguay, sharing a border with Brazil and taking in some of the country’s South Atlantic coast. An internationally recognised biosphere reserve, it comprises a vast complex of coastal wetlands, including various lagoons and parts of rivers. Altogether, these form a rich habitat for an assortment of wildlife, including myriad species that are categorised as near-threatened or endangered – one notable example is the juvenile green turtle (Chelonia mydas). Bañados del Este y Franja Costera was added to the Montreux Record, the register for wetlands where ecological changes have occurred or are occurring because of human interference, in July 1990. The area had already been designated as a wetland of international significance in 1984, thereby coming under the auspices of the Convention on Wetlands (or Ramsar Convention) which is committed to the conservation of vulnerable wetlands while achieving sustainable development by delivering a framework action at local and global levels.

The Bañados del Este y Franja Costera wetland is situated in the departments of Rocha and Treinta y Tres in eastern Uruguay (its coordinates are: 33°48'S 053°50'W). The site covers an approximate area of some 407,408 hectares. Many of the country’s rivers flow east toward the Atlantic and empty into lagoons in the coastal plain – the largest of these is Laguna Merin, Uruguay’s easternmost destination and part of the reserve.
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