Wednesday, 14 July 2010

S'on-ly A Game !

Many interesting revelations to come in the crossbill world very soon so keep posted but meantime a bit of fun ! If Menzie can put up blurry, dodgy pics of his Spanny birds and ask "how many species" then so can I with Crossbills. To make it easier though rather than photos of crossers, which most people seem to get wrong or concede "they just don't know", I have this sonogram instead:

It was recorded on 16th April 2009 in upper Deeside, native Scots Pine habitat (using ME67 and Sony HiMD). So, how many crossbills and of what crossbill species, and more importantly how many call types ? I bet Menzie gets them all correct, he always does !

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Dougie Preston said...

Ok then, I'll have a shot just to prove that I can look at these sonograms for over a year and still not know what the hell I'm talking about!

First of all you have a min of 2 Parrot Xbills, due to the simultaneous excitement (2D) and flight calls (Fc2) at 3.3 seconds. Not including all the Fc2's at the start of course...

Second one to grab my attention is the excitement call at 1.9 seconds, which looks like it could be a Common Xbill (1A).

Third up is the excitement call starting at 2.1 seconds... Could that be a Scotbill?

In case you would like to offer a prize, If I'm even close, I'll accept a Parrot Xbill by first class post please.... If I'm completely wrong I'll take up stamp collecting instead!

Loxia Fan said...

Interesting Dougie. Have you got a stamp album.....? ! Good of you to have first go though and not completely off the scale.

Any more takers ?

I will post results after a few folks have had a go so we get a range of analysis.

Loxia Fan said...

....phew just finished some recording (not xbills for a change)and some producing.

Right, I know I should have put this on Bird Forum as, afterall, that is where all the experts are ;-) !

But c'mon, Dougies has had a pretty good stab so anyone else ?

I picked this example whilst checking through some material for the NESBR 2009 and thought it interesting due to the apparent variety in a few seconds.

It is interesting for me as it lets me see what crossbill calls are most confusable, not by 'lay-people', but people who are interested in crossbills and who have had some experience. Hopefully the results will be instructive to any interested parties, but......I am not giving them unless at least 3 other people have a go (I have a pram and I have toys)........

Loxia Fan said...


Since you are the only one brave enough to have a go, you can have a Mulligan - take another stab at it !

Dougie Preston said...

Not 'brave', just stupidity, but never one to pass up a chance at public humiliation ;) (don't you just love the Internet...)

I still stand by the min of two Parrots previously stated, but I'm sure there are also some 'Common' excitement calls also?

I recon I'm just needing a bit of 'in field' experience of xbills other than all these bloody '4E's'.... Put it this way, if I recorded that sonogram in Shetland I'd be well impressed (and confused!)

Loxia Fan said...

"I still stand by the min of two Parrots previously stated, but I'm sure there are also some 'Common' excitement calls also?"

Wrong on the Parrots (but forgivable as will be seen), but yes there are Common Ec's in there. You are closer than you think to the answer....but the analysis has to hold up !

I thought more peops would have had a go ? Oh, well if there are no more I will email you the answers tommorrow Dougie. All the 'trawlers' and lurkers will just have to keep guessing (and learn nothing !).

Stephen Menzie said...

I suppose since I've been mentioned by name twice(!) I'd better give this a go! The pressure is on. Although I don't hold out any hope of me getting it right. I haven't had chance to do any xbilling for a long long time now and probably need a bit of reference material next to me for this... but since most of what I own is still three and a half hours drive away... Enough excuses already?
My answer: 4. Or two, if we're talking species. I think Dougie is right with the Psrrot Ec. However, I think all calls belong to Common. I'm going to stick my neck out with the first few Fc's in the recording (1st, 2nd, 4th) and say they're Fc1... at first glance they look a bit Fc2-ish but I don't think the peak is pointed enough; I seem to remember having recorded calls like this myself at some point. The excitement calls also look like EcA's, so I'm going to assume these are coming from the same birds as are giving the Fc's. The last two Fc's look different to me; not only do they seem to have an extra element (don't think that's a harmonic extending down, is it?), the main body of the call is also a different shape. I'm going to guess at these being Fc4s. The (other) first and 3rd Fc's in the recording look different again, quite pointed at the peak this time and slightly higher pitched... Fc2?
I'll slink back off into a dark corner now and wait to be told how wrong I am.

Loxia Fan said...

Hi Stephen,

Not bad. Both of you got the EcA's and you Stephen recognised the Fc1's at teh start, the "parroty" Fc's as I call them.

However,there is a Parrot Crossbill in there giving both Ec's and Fc's ( the last ones !)

Have posted my analysis for those interested.