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Tropical Mockingbird (Mimus gilvus) at Gibraltar: 1st for the area and the WP?

Charles Pérez & Keith Bensusan (GONHS)

With photos from Charles Pérez

Introduction
Photos
Origin of the bird


Introduction

A colleague of Charles Pérez told him that a friend working in a garage in the town area had seen a strange bird, the size of a Blackbird (Turdus merula) and blue grey, and that it had been there for two weeks now (24.2.2012), and that it was not a Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) as he knew this bird.

Keith Bensusan and Charles Pérez went to see it on 24.2.2012 but could not find it. Later that afternoon Keith passed by the area and saw the bird and called me immediately. When we looked at it it was perched in a mulberry tree and instantly saw that it was a mockingbird (Mimus). It was very close and we looked at it through binoculars and could see the grey back long tail and two light wing bars. When I got home I looked it up in my American field guide and confirmed initally its identity as a Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). Keith also came to the same conclusion. The bird has been there apparently for over two weeks and comes down to feed in refuse bins in the area. The location is close to the North Mole of the Gibraltar harbour and we presume it has been ship-assisted, as this species usually is.

On 25.2.2012 morning Charles and Keith again went to check on the mockingbird as Keith and Charles realised they had not seen it in flight and did not remember if it had the white wing patches. It showed well earlier on but then spent some time in the dense foliage of a palm tree and did not move much. We were unable to take any photographs but we saw the bird in flight and noticed it did have the two wing bars but lacked the white patches. Moreover we also saw the tail pattern and saw the wedge black centre and white fringe to outer tail feathers that did not extend along the outer tail feather. We were then satisfied that the bird was not a Northern Mockingbird Mimus polyglottos but a Tropical Mockingbird Mimus gilvus. A species found in the Caribbean and Lesser Antilles.

It may well have come over on board a ship as Charles does not know of any records of the species being kept in captivity. The bird also behaved like a wild bird and although allowing close proximity, was weary of people. See a number of photos below.

Photos

All photos: © Charles Pérez

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Mimus

Origin of the bird

Editorial comment. HBW10 states Tropical Mockingbird as a sedentary species. Its arrival to the WP therefore is likely to have involved some kind of ship-assistance. This might represent a withdrawn of the species from any official list (A,B,C categories) but AERC through BOURC is currently reviewing the consideration of ship-assisted species into national lists. And this might be a case for debate. The current debate seems to be in considering if the bird 'is capable' to cross the Atlantic but uses a ship (like we are capable to walk but might use a bus... in plain words), it would be 'countable'. Related species Northern Mockingbird is apparently capable to cross the Atlantic on its own. This Tropical fellow of it should be too in 'physiological' terms. But it's apparently sedentary. So no need to gain fat or weight for migration that might become flight 'fuel'. A thorough investigation on ship movements around Gibraltar and their origin (might be ships on the move through the straits, not necessarily landing) plus a deeper investigation on the record circumstances, weather etc...will be probably undergone. In the meantime this a stunning species to be seen in mainland Europe!

Update. GONHS has undertaken a review of the ships reaching Gibraltar of an American origin. The list is below. It seems likely, therefore that the Mockingbird may have arrived on board of one of such vessels.

Arrival

Ship

Departure

From (Port)

From (Country)

01/02/2012 14:31

WILD COSMOS

01/02/2012 11:24

PUERTO BOLIVAR(COL)

Colombia

03/02/2012 15:57

FOCKEBURG

00-00-0000 12:00

RIO DE JANEIRO

Brazil

04/02/2012 16:50

WILD HEATHER

05/02/2012 01:33

ALMIRANTE

Panama

06/02/2012 07:42

CONFIDENCE

00-00-0000 12:00

CRISTOBAL

Panama

06/02/2012 13:12

JIMILTA II

06/02/2012 06:21

NEW AMSTERDAM

Guyana

08/02/2012 11:14

CHIKUMA REEFER

08/02/2012 06:05

CRISTOBAL

Panama

09/02/2012 05:08

NORD TAIPEI

09/02/2012 03:22

MATANZAS(VEN)

Venezuela

09/02/2012 01:00

SUNSHINE

09/02/2012 10:30

SANTOS

Brazil

10/02/2012 03:09

ANANGEL HARMONY

10/02/2012 10:25

PUERTO BOLIVAR(COL)

Colombia

09/02/2012 20:19

POLARSTREAM

10/02/2012 05:44

PUERTO BOLIVAR(COL)

Colombia

11/02/2012 10:32

HAWK BAY

11/02/2012 09:02

PUERTO BOLIVAR(COL)

Colombia

14/02/2012 13:40

NORD INNOVATION

14/02/2012 09:50

RIO DE JANEIRO

Brazil

14/02/2012 13:10

INASE

14/02/2012 10:32

PARANAGUA

Brazil

14/02/2012 12:25

OSIOS DAVID II

14/02/2012 09:38

PUERTO QUETZAL

Guatemala

14/02/2012 10:59

DERIBAS

14/02/2012 05:43

NEW AMSTERDAM

Guyana

13/02/2012 17:28

CARIBBEAN STAR

14/02/2012 03:00

PUERTO BOLIVAR(COL)

Colombia

13/02/2012 17:24

NORD FUJI

14/02/2012 05:39

ITACOATIARA

Brazil

16/02/2012 15:17

TRITON REEFER

17/02/2012 12:17

CRISTOBAL

Panama

17/02/2012 14:30

MEXICAN BAY

18/02/2012 04:23

PUERTO BOLIVAR

Colombia

19/02/2012 16:44

ROSE BALSAM

20/02/2012 04:43

SANTOS

Brazil

19/02/2012 14:36

CROWN SAPPHIRE

19/02/2012 11:15

PUERTO MOIN

Costa Rica

Update. In August 2012 the bird has been relocated in Algeciras, Cádiz (Fernando Barrios et al)

 

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Tropical Mockingbird at Gibraltar: 1st for the area and the WP?

Summary:

Introduction
Photos


 
 
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