Have a go at this winter visitor quiz. I’ve set the pass mark at 70% and you have 30 seconds to complete each question. It’s a slightly different format to the other image based quizzes and for some answers I’ve had to anticipate variables, e.g. white-fronted, white fronted etc. If you type in a combination of words I haven’t thought of, your question will be marked wrong even though it’s right. Apologies for that, but that’s simply a minor quirk in an otherwise excellent plug-in (and I don’t suppose the creator anticipated nerdy bird quizzes). In general the questions aren’t too difficult, and shouldn’t tax you too much, although one or two will require some deeper thought. I’ve set random selection, so if you do it more than once the questions will be in a different order and within questions the order of images will be different. Other quizzes can be found here. Good luck and thanks for tuning in.
#1. Which species of wildfowl? ? Look at those pointed tail feathers.
Hard Luck! These are Pintail, (Anas acuta), a visitor from northern Europe. Drakes can be identified by their chocolate brown heads and both sexes by the elongated and sharply tapered tail feathers.
#2. What is this exotic looking species? ? A berry loving visitor from Scandinavia, named after the waxy red tips to some of the flight feathers
Hard luck! This is a Waxwing, (Bombycilla garrulus), a Starling sized very colourful wanderer that appears in varying numbers every winter. Flocks will strip berries from shrubs and trees in the very centre of towns and can be very approachable. Supermarket car parks can be good places to see them.
#3. Name the Species ? The flash of colour under the wing should help you
Sorry, that’s wrong. This is a Redwing, (Turdus iliacus), another Scandinavian winter migrant. easily told by the bright off white supercilium and the red patch on the flanks.
#4. Which goose species is this? ? Colour of the legs and feet give this one away
Hard luck! These are Pink-footed Geese (Anser brachyrhynchus), flocks of which winter in Scotland and north and eastern England. This wintering population represent the entire Icelandic and Greenland breeding birds. A ‘grey’ goose with a dark head and small bill. The legs and feet are of course pink. In flight the ‘wink wink’ call is diagnostic.
#5. Any ideas about this one? ? A real vagrant. Only a few turn up every year and should be a long way further east. Named after its sandy tones - you may need to dig out your field guide!.
Hard luck! That was a tough one. This is a Desert Wheatear, (Oenanthe desert), a vagrant from the east that occasionally turns up on our coastline. This is a 1st winter male that was present in NE Norfolk for a few days during early 2020. Points to note: overall pale sandy tones with all black tail. The emerging black adult facial patch and white fringed dark primaries are clearly shown. Female and 1st winter Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe), shows a much darker brown/grey back, a black band at the end of the tail, and no black on face.
#6. Which species of goose?
Hard Luck. These are White-fronted Geese, (Anser albifrons), a winter visitor from Russia or Greenland (there are two races). The white shield at the base of the bill gives the species its name, and the black barring on the belly is diagnostic, particularly on flying birds.
#7. There's two Turnstones here, but what is the other species? ? Use the link in the description to find out more.
Hard luck! It’s a Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima), a coastal species often found on rocks and sea defences. Try looking at this guide to help you
#8. Identify this Drake
Hard Luck, this is a drake Wigeon, (Anas penelope). Told by it’s chestnut head with cream blaze on the crown.
#9. What is this species? ? You'll find this visitor from the Arctic foraging on coastal shingle and dunes
Hard luck! This is a Snow Bunting, (Plectrophenax nivalis). In flight the males show bright white wing patches with the rest of the plumage being a mix of rusty orange, black and warm browns.
#10. Which one is the Scaup?
Hard Luck. The Scaup (Aythya marila) is very much like a Tufted Duck, but the drake pictured here has a grey back and a rounder head without any tuft.
#11. Spot the Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Sorry that’s wrong. The Jack Snipe, (Lymnocryptes minimus), is one of our smallest wetland birds and can be told from other similar species by it’s relatively short bill, dark crown (Common Snipe, (Gallinago gallinago), has a yellowish streak), clear buff streaks down the back, and habit of perpetually bobbing up and down.
#12. Which image portrays a Siskin (Carduelis spinus)?
Hard Luck! Siskins are small, streaked, green and black finches with small bills.
#13. A small shorebird without a hind toe - what is it?
Hard Luck. This is a Sanderling, (Calidris alba), a small greyish wader that is commonly found scurrying around on the strandline. You can brush up on your small wader identification by looking at the WingSearch guide
#14. Which one is the 1st Winter Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)?
Hard luck! The Glaucous Gull is a large, heavy set bird with a large pink beak. You can find out more by looking at the WingSearch ID guide
#15. Which one is a Fieldfare? ? Their name means 'Wander of Fields'
Hard Luck! Fieldfares (Turdus pilaris) generally move around in flocks and only visit gardens in severe weather when food supplies diminish. They are large thrushes that arrive from Scandinavia and move around the country depending on the availability of berries and the weather. They have a grey head, russet coloured back and warm buff tones around their heavily spotted underparts. Their loud ‘chack chack’ calls alert you to their presence in hedgerows.
#16. What is this species? ? Often see foraging on the ground with Chaffinches
Hard Luck! This is a Brambling, (Fringilla montifringilla), a winter visitor from northern lands. The bird pictured here is a male beginning to acquire its breeding plumage. They closely resemble Chaffinches, (Fringilla coelebs)but are coloured orange rather than pink. Look for them under beech trees and on feeders.
#17. Which goose species is this?
Hard luck! These are Brent Geese (Branta bernicla) which come to us from various parts of Arctic Russia and Greenland. There are three races that winter in the UK, these are Dark-bellied Brents (B.b. bernicla) that winter on the east coast, Pale-bellied Brents (B.b. hrota) winter in Ireland and some parts of NE England, and the Black Brant (B.b. nigricans), a rarity, that can sometimes be found within flocks of the other races.
#18. Which one is the 1st Winter Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)?
Hard Luck! The 1st winter Iceland Gull is biscuit coloured, smaller and daintier than the Glaucous Gull, (Larus hyperboreus), with a more rounded head and benign expression. You can brush up on your ID skills by looking at this WingSearch guide
#19. What species is this? ? Look at the extent of yellow on the beak.
Hard Luck! These are Whooper Swans (Cygnus cygnus), a large swan that visits us from Iceland. Told from the Mute swan (Cygnus olor)by its yellow and black beak and straight neck (Mute Swans have an arched posture). The Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus) has a much smaller yellow crescent at the base of the bill.