As many of you already know, a "Sandhill" Crane was reported from Huesca, Spain, this weekend, in a big flock of 30.000 common cranes.
At first, everyone thought it was most probably the Orkney bird, seen later in France, that had wintered somewhere in the south of Spain, and was heading North now with the common cranes.
However, luckily, some pictures were taken, and itīs obvious that, first of all, itīs not the UK bird, and, second, several features shown by the bird are wrong for Sandhill (amongst others, the extremely bright white neck, being of the same colour of the face, and therefore not contrasting with it, the pale, ivory coloured bill, like that of Common Crane, the very long legs/neck, large size, apparently larger than common crane, etc...) and would identify the bird either as an aberrant Common Crane, or as a hybrid Common x ...
Itīs true, as some experienced USA observers have pointed out, that some Sandhills can look nearly as white necked as this bird, and be as large as the spanish bird, but, overall, considering also the structure, the head and wing pattern, bill colour, etc... well visible on the latest pictures, published here:
www.reservoirbirds.com (also pics of the first Gyr for Spain) I think itīs safe now to rule out Sandhill with confidence.
The question is, is it an aberrant Common, or some sort of hybrid with Common? From the available photos, It seems that the ammount of red on the forehead is more extensive than what we would expect in a Common, but perhaps the pigment anomaly of the neck can explain that too....