Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)
Species
First-winter Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). First-winter. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on January 21st 2012.
First-winter. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on January 21st 2012.
(1/320th sec at f13. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
Grey Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius). Juvenile. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on September 7th 2008.
Juvenile. Taken at Farmoor, Oxon., on September 7th 2008.
(1/250th sec at f8. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)

Description

L: 20 - 22 cm; WS: 36 - 41 cm

The breeding female Grey Phalarope is predominantly dark brown and black above, with red underparts and white cheek patches. The bill is yellow with a black tip. The breeding male is a duller version of the female. Young birds are light grey and brown above, with buff underparts and a dark patch through the eye. As it is a sea-going wader, this species has evolved lobed toes.

This species breeds in the Arctic and winters in the Atlantic off west Africa. Birds seen in Britain are usually juveniles blown off-course by bad weather and strong winds.

Their breeding habitat is coastal wet tundra.

The typical avian sex roles are reversed in the three phalarope species. The females are larger and more brightly coloured than the males. The females pursue males, compete for nesting territory, and will aggressively defend their nests and chosen mates. Once the females lay their olive-brown eggs, they begin their southward migration, leaving the males to incubate the eggs and care for the young.

Sightings

22-Oct-2016 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)

06-Dec-2015 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (2)
28-Nov-2015 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
21-Jan-2012 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
07-Sep-2008 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)
30-Sep-2007 : Farmoor Reservoir, Oxon (1)