Friday, 30 May 2014

Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant

Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 17th March 2012 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 0517)


The introduced Reeves's Pheasant population in the Norfolk Brecks appears to be increasing rapidly and as is often the case with species populations becoming established in a new area, hybrids appear. In this situation the incidence of hybrids may be increased as a result of a disproportionate number of males among the Reeves's Pheasant population.

The first hybrid shown here had a cyst on the back of the head with large colourful feathers hanging loose from it.




 
Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid (same bird as in photo ID 0517 above), Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 17th March 2012 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo IDs: 0518-0521)


I passed by the copse where I saw this several times over the subsequent months but never saw it again... until nearly 3 years later.  Presumably the same bird as not only in the same place but showing the same tuft of loose feathers at the back of the head.









Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 22nd February 2015 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo IDs: 2003-2011)


On my next visit the bird was still present, but so was a second bird (more on which to follow further down this page...)  Here's the original one:

Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 21st March 2015 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 2149)


Still there in 2016, though I couldn't find it on some intervening visits.  On this occasion it was calling, but a bit too distantly for my sound recordings to have come out usable.

Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 27th March 2016 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 2768)


Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 19th November 2016 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 2847)


A friend had seen the second bird a few weeks earlier and described it to me - I wondered if it was a hybrid between a Reeves's Pheasant and a tenebrosus variant of Ring-necked Pheasant.  Tenebrosus Pheasants are the very dark birds that seem to be released among the more normal-plumaged Ring-necked Pheasants quite often - there are lots in this area (photos of a male here and a female here and more at gobirding.eu).  Well now I've seen it I still think that's the most likely ID.  The Reeves's influence isn't very strong in this bird's plumage - although very clear in the structure - notably the long tail but also I think the thick-necked puffed out look probably comes from Reeves's Pheasant (it reminded me of pictures of Chicken x Pheasant hybrids, but not with that tail!).  When I saw it first it was displaying on the very same log that the previous hybrid was displaying on when I first saw it back in March 2012.  I suppose it's plausible that rather than this simply being a second hybrid it's the offspring of the hybrid, presumably crossed with a Tenebrosus Pheasant - but how likely is it that this inter-generic hybrid is fertile to be able to produce a backcross?






presumed Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant (var. tenebrosus) hybrid (or perhaps the previous hybrid backcrossed with a Tenebrosus variant Ring-necked Pheasant?), Threxton Hill (Norfolk, UK), 21st March 2015 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo IDs: 2150-2155)


The next bird was rather distant and only on view very briefly, hence the substandard photo.

 
Reeves's Pheasant x Ring-necked Pheasant hybrid, Great Cressingham (Norfolk, UK), 27th February 2011 - copyright Dave Appleton
(photo ID: 0516)



Reeves's Pheasant Syrmaticus reevesii
Ring-necked Pheasant Phasianus colchicus

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