Wigeon (Eurasian Wigeon) Anas penelope

An abundant winter visitor to the marshes of Norfolk and elsewhere. Over 22,000 were counted at a single site in east Norfolk in December 2005. Almost all of them depart in the spring and only a very small handful stay here for the summer.

I've commented before about the occurrence of green behind the head on Wigeon and speculated about whether a full green band is simply normal variation within Eurasian Wigeon or evidence of hybridisation, perhaps two or more generations back. The favoured hypothesis is that it is just variation, and there are a few individuals below showing some of this variation. For a brief write up about this see this blog post.

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male and female Wigeons, Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 25th January 2004

 

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Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 5th November 2011

 

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first-winter male Wigeon, Horsey (Norfolk, UK), 17th December 2011

 

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male and female Wigeons, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2011

 

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Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 13th October 2007

 

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Wigeons, Welney (Norfolk, UK), 10th January 2015

 

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first-winter male Wigeon, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 23rd December 2015

 

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male Wigeon, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 23rd December 2015

 

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male and female Wigeons, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2005

 

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Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 5th November 2011

 

male Wigeon, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 21st January 2013

 

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male Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd February 2007

 

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female Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd February 2007

 

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first-winter male Wigeon, Burnham Overy Marsh (Norfolk, UK), 31st January 2009

 

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male Wigeon, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 28th October 2008

 

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Wigeons, Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 1st January 2010

 

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Wigeons, Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 13th March 2010

 

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male Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 15th March 2004

 

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male Wigeon, Lochmaben (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2003

 

male Wigeon, Loch Ryan (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 28th December 2005

 

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female and male Wigeons, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 16th February 2008

 

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Wigeons, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 24th January 2015

 

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Wigeon, Brancaster (Norfolk, UK), 25th September 2012

 

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male and female Wigeons, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 9th February 2008

 

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female and male Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 7th November 2003

 

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Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 6th October 2012 - the single birds are all different individuals cropped from the flock photos above

 

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Wigeons, Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 27th October 2012

 

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Wigeons, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 6th October 2012

 

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male Wigeon with green head band, Pentney (Norfolk, UK), 31st March 2009

 

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male Wigeons, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012 - note the varying extents of green on the heads of these birds - several different individuals here

 

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Wigeons, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 8th December 2012

 

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Wigeons (with 2 Pintail, 4th & 5th from right), Sheringham (Norfolk, UK), 10th October 2009

 

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female Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 27th February 2003

 

male Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 22nd March 2004

 

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male Wigeon, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 3rd February 2007

 

female Wigeon, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 3rd February 2007

 

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male Wigeon, Snettisham (Norfolk, UK), 31st March 2009

 

male Wigeon, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 15th February 2006

 

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male Wigeons, Pentney (Norfolk, UK), 18th November 2006

 

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Wigeon, Pentney (Norfolk, UK), 31st March 2009

 

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female Wigeon, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 6th February 2010

 

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Wigeons, Swanton Morley (Norfolk, UK), 20th September 2008

 

Wigeon, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 6th November 2007

 

Wigeons, Brancaster Staithe (Norfolk, UK), 1st December 2010

 

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Wigeon with green head band, Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 13th March 2010

 

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Wigeon, Titchwell (Norfolk, UK), 23rd October 2009

 

Wigeon, Cley (Norfolk, UK), 10th September 2005

 

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male Wigeon, Tayport (Tayside, UK), 27th December 2010

 

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Wigeons, Hayle (Cornwall, UK), 19th October 2010

 

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Wigeons, Blakeney (Norfolk, UK), 4th December 2010

 

Wigeons, Holkham (Norfolk, UK), 2nd March 2011 - notice how this individual shows pink running into the foreflanks

 

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Wigeon, Burnham Overy (Norfolk, UK), 19th December 2015

 

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male Wigeon, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2005

 

male Wigeon with green head band, Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 10th March 2010

 

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male Wigeon, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 30th December 2003

 

female Wigeon, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 23rd December 2015

 

For some reason Wigeon showing a white patch behind the eye seem to crop up with some regularity. I had assumed that this was some kind of leucism or similar pigment-defiicency condition, but the regularity with which it occurs, always localised to a particular patch behind the eye makes me wonder if something different is going on. Perhaps its the same thing as the white mottling on a Brent Goose's head? Comments are welcome, but here are six such individuals.

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female Wigeon with white patch behind eye, Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 25th January 2004

 

female Wigeon with white patch behind eye, Caerlaverock (Dumfries & Galloway, UK), 29th December 2005

 

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Wigeon with white patch behind eye, Buckenham (Norfolk, UK), 25th January 2004 - note the dark marks on the breast that are not typically found on male Wigeon; intersex birds can show dark barring on the flanks (see below) so possibly this bird is an advanced intersex bird?

 

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female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Welney (Norfolk, UK), 10th January 2015

 

The following bird returning for several winters is not only aberrant in having white on the head but in being a female showing male characteristics, presumably an intersex.

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presumed intersex female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 1st December 2012

 

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presumed intersex female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 22nd February 2014

 

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presumed intersex female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 1st March 2014

 

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presumed intersex female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Salthouse (Norfolk, UK), 23rd December 2015

 

This one was superficially female-like but seemed to show a few hints of male plumage. I suspect it is another intersex.

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presumed intersex female Wigeon with white plumage on head, Burnham Norton (Norfolk, UK), 2nd April 2016

 

 

More typical forms of leucism, where the bird is generally paler than normal birds, are more uncommon, but occur occasionally as with other species of duck. Here is one such bird.

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leucistic Wigeon, Minsmere (Suffolk, UK), 10th September 2011

 

Leucism occurs among captive bird populations far more frequently than it does in wild birds, probably due to inbreeding resulting from a limited gene pool. The following bird was at a site that attracts large numbers of birds that have been released for shooting and the aviculturalist's ring confirms its non-wild origins.

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captive-origin leucistic Wigeon, Lowestoft (Suffolk, UK), 11th February 2012