A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Sunday, 6 March 2016

The Golden Pheasant of the Wolferton Triangle - an update!

It's no secret that I love bright and colourful birds, and the Golden Pheasant at Wolferton Triangle is no exception. Having last seen this magnificent bird over a year ago now back in December 2014, we took the opportunity to revisit the area at the end of 2015 during our trip to Norfolk in an attempt to get further views of this most charismatic of birds.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
Dividing birders opinions, with many regarding him as part of the “Plastic Fantastic” crew, I am firmly in the ‘admirers’ camp, loving the touch of colour and vibrancy that he brings to the woods of Norfolk. Love him or loathe him, there is no denying that with a fiery golden plumage and sporadic sightings, the Golden Pheasant is a very special bird indeed.

Parking up at the favoured spot where he is most often seen (on the northern edge of the triangle just before the ‘Give Way’ sign), we watched and waited for any hint of crimson and gold amongst the thick Rhododendron undergrowth.... 
Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
Waiting for the Golden Pheasant to emerge.....
With mornings being the best time of day to catch a sighting, we were there bright and early, arriving at just after half 8. We didn’t have to wait long – a little before 9am we struck gold – a hint of vibrant yellow and striking red emerging slowly from the hedge line – our Golden Pheasant.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
We watched on as he ventured across the verge and on to the road, stopping to pick at seeds along the roadside edge before crossing over to the other side. Foraging for around 20 minutes, this was our longest encounter by far, and we enjoyed fantastic views as he paraded in front of the car in all his fiery glory, eventually disappearing back in to the undergrowth of his favoured triangle. Always an amazing experience with this bird, it was brilliant to watch him at length, and interestingly, unlike our visit a year earlier, this time we didn't see any Common Pheasants in the area at all.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
With a number of birds once present in this particular location, it is now possible that sadly just one male remains. Comparing my photos from this winter with those taken over a year earlier and studying the head markings, it is clear to see that this is the same individual - the feather patterns on the neck match up perfectly.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
Both photos show the extensive dark patch in the bottom corner of the golden hood.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
Not as easy to see on the bird's left hand side, looking closely, both photos show the same black stripe patterns and gold spacing.
I also took a look at many of the recent photographs of the Wolferton Golden Pheasant taken in the past few months to ascertain whether these too were all of the same individual. Again, looking at the patterns on the neck feathers, the position and thickness of the stripes are identical, indicating that they are indeed all of the same male. In particular, the thick patch of black stripes in the bottom corner of the bird's right hand side can clearly be seen on all photographs.  
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton, Norfolk
Photos kindly supplied by David Johnstone (Top Left), Christopher Teague (Top Middle) Max Hellicar (Bottom Left) and Harry Murphy (Bottom Middle).
Whilst not as obvious, the black stripes and the gold spacing in between are also identical on the bird's left hand side. 
Photos kindly supplied by Steve Gantlett (Top Left) and Harry Murphy (Bottom Right)
Whether there are indeed other individuals present in the triangle remains to be seen - there could well be females remaining undetected in the secrecy of the Rhododendron cover or other males that rarely venture out on to the road, meaning that the same showy male gets repeatedly photographed. However, the fact that each photograph I've found over the past year depicts the same individual indicates it is highly likely that he is indeed the very last Golden Pheasant in the Wolferton Triangle - an extremely sad fact if true. If anyone has any photos that possibly depict a different bird, or if two birds have been seen together, I would be interested to hear. 

One thing is for certain, once this particular male’s time is up and he is no longer found to be strutting proudly around the triangle, it will become much harder to see this elusive species in Britain, and the Wolferton Triangle will most certainly be a lot less colourful as a result.
Golden Pheasant - Wolferton Triangle, Norfolk
For a further look in to the history behind the Wolferton population and an in depth analysis of the genetics regarding the black throat patch on the birds, check out last year’s blog post here

3 comments:

  1. Remarkable looking bird - and I suppose that given time (and a few more males!) they may become no less plastic than the 'normal' pheasant.

    I wonder if you would be interested in linking your bird blog posts to Wild BIrd Wednesday - a blog link up that runs on my photo-blog from Wednesday (!) to Sunday. About 40 other bird bloggers already join in. The whole linking 'thing' takes about 30 seconds!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    Replies
    1. Yes - It's always great to see him! I have done for you - thanks for asking :)

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  2. Super images and ID comparisons of this elegant male.

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