1 October 2016

Red-footed Booby

Red-footed Booby (紅腳鰹鳥)
Ascension (2016)
22th February, 2016. Georgetown

Red-footed Booby is the smallest member of the booby and gannet family at about 70 cm in length and with a wingspan of up to 1m. The average weight of 490 adults from Christmas Island was 837g. It has red legs, and its bill and throat pouch are coloured pink and blue. This species has several morphs. In the white morph the plumage is mostly white (the head often tinged yellowish) and the flight feathers are black. The black-tailed white morph is similar, but with a black tail, and can easily be confused with the Nazca and masked boobies. The brown morph is overall brown. The white-tailed brown morph is similar, but has a white belly, rump, and tail. The white-headed and white-tailed brown morph has a mostly white body, tail and head, and brown wings and back. The morphs commonly breed together, but in most regions one or two morphs predominates; e.g. at the Galápagos Islands, most belong to the brown morph, though the white morph also occurs.

The sexes are similar, and juveniles are brownish with darker wings, and pale pinkish legs, while chicks are covered in dense white down.

2 July 2016

Blue Coral

Blue Coral (藍珊瑚)
Tuvalu (1992)
26th March, 2016. Funafuti

Blue coral is a species of colonial coral and the only species in the family Helioporidae and the only Octocoral known to produce a massive skeleton. This skeleton is formed of aragonite, similar to that of scleractinia. Individual polyps live in tubes within the skeleton and are connected by a thin layer of tissue over the outside of the skeleton. It was described by Pallas in 1766.

 Despite being common in some areas and having a large range, the blue coral has been given the conservation status of a vulnerable species by the IUCN. Its population is unknown but it is believed to be decreasing in line with the global destruction of coral reefs; it is threatened by aquarium harversting, bleaching, habitat destruction, the acidification of oceans, and climate change. It is found in the eastern and western Indian ocean, and the eastern central, western central, northwestern, and southwestern Pacific Ocean; its range includes the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, Japan and the Ryukyu Islands. Its largest colony is believed to be located off Ishigaki Island in the Yaeyama Islands, southwestern Japan. It is found in reefs with depths below 2metres, or reefs exposed to waves, flats, intertidal regions, and sometimes in marginal habitats. The blue coral is listed under CITES Appendixes I and II.

25 June 2016

Blue-breasted Kingfisher

Blue-breasted Kingfisher (藍胸翡翠)
 São Tomé e Príncipe (2015)
3rd February, 2016. São Tomé
 
The blue-breasted kingfisher is a tree kingfisher which is widely distributed in tropical west Africa. This kingfisher is essentially resident, but retreats from drier savanna areas to wetter habitats in the dry season.

This is a large kingfisher, 25 cm in length. The adult has a bright blue head, back, wing panel and tail. Its underparts are white, but it has a blue breast band. The shoulders are black. The flight of the blue-breasted kingfisher is rapid and direct. The large bill has a red upper mandible and black lower mandible. The legs are bright red.

The blue-breasted kingfisher is a species of a variety of well-wooded habitats. It perches quietly in deep shade whilst seeking food. It is territorial but wary. This species mainly hunts large insects, arthropods, fish and frogs, but will also eat the fruit of the Oil Palm.

It has a striking display in which the wings are spread to show the white linings. The nest is a hole in a tree termite nest. A single clutch of two round white eggs is typical.

4 June 2016

Stanley Bustard

Stanley Bustard (黑冠鴇)
Indonesia (2015)
25th January, 2016. Lome
15th February, 2016. Hongkong

Denham's bustard is the largest species in the Neotis genus, although is smaller than the bustards in the Ardeotis genus (as well as the great bustard). The male is 9 to 10 kg and 100–116 cm, the female is much smaller at 3 to 4 kg and 80–87 cm. The back is brown, darker and plainer in the male, and the underparts are white. The neck is pale grey with an orange nape. Its grey crown is bordered with black, and a black line runs through the eye with a white line forming an eyebrow above. The long legs are pale yellow. The wings are strikingly patterned in brown, white and black, the male showing more white in flight than the female or young birds. The long legs are yellowish in color and the bill is whitish horn in colour.

The male inflates his throat when displaying to show a conspicuous balloon of white feathers. This species is usually silent.

30 April 2016

Harlequin Shrimp

 
Harlequin Shrimp (釉彩臘膜蝦)
Kiribati (2005)

2nd March, 2016. Tarawa

Harlequin Shrimp is a species of saltwater shrimp found at coral reefs in the tropical Indian and Pacific oceans. It is usually considered the only species in the genus Hymenocera, but some split it into two species: H. picta from the central and east Pacific where the spots are deep pinkish-purple with a yellow edge, and H. elegans from the Indian Ocean and west Pacific where the spots are more brownish and have a blue edge. They reach about 5 centimetres (2.0 in) in length, live in pairs and feed exclusively on starfish, including crown-of-thorns starfish. It does seem to prefer smaller, more sedentary starfish, but as these generally are not sufficiently numerous for its needs, it commonly will attack Acanthaster, both reducing its consumption of coral while under attack, and killing it within a few days.

23 April 2016

Red-crowned Crane

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

29th Deember, 2015. 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.

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.