Lady Amherst's Pheasant Chrysolophus amherstiae

This species has been introduced to a number of locations in the UK and has been admitted on to the British list on account of the fact that this population appeared to be self-sustaining without the need of further introductions. However in recent years the main population has declined to a point that they are now all but extinct.

In Norfolk successful breeding in the wild was recorded at Guist and Quiddenham in 1973 but since then there have just been a handful of records of individuals that had escaped or been released and it soon became clear that the species' inclusion on the Norfolk list was not justified.

Recently rumours of a small feral population in the environs of Pensthorpe Waterfowl Park reached my ears. At least one male has been photographed so I took a visit to investigate further. I found a single male, not the pure-looking bird that had been photographed previously, but a hybrid with Golden Pheasant (evidenced most obviously by the red belly). It was in the carpark at Pensthorpe and, although not inside an enclosure, it clearly belonged to the Park. If a breeding population of pure Lady Amherst's Pheasants does exist here, I think it would be stretching things to describe them as feral!

A subsequent visit produced views of the bird I'd been looking for, but close insepection revealed some anomalies that I think indicate Golden Pheasant influence, so I think neither bird are completely pure. The second bird shows a faint orangey wash on the flanks and the red crown extends to the forehead, wheareas pure Lady Amherst's have a dark green forecrown.

So, no photos of pure birds yet, but here are the hybrids:

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male Lady Amherst's Pheasant x Golden Pheasant hybrid, Pensthorpe (Norfolk, UK), 28th February 2010


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male Lady Amherst's Pheasant or, more likely I think, a backcrossed hybrid with some Golden Pheasant ancestry, Pensthorpe (Norfolk, UK), 13th March 2010


Another bird which I assume to be a hybrid, but this one backcrossed with Golden Pheasant, appears at the bottom of the Golden Pheasant page.