Gallery is complete!
11th March, 2022 | News & updates
after one recently achieved milestone (all of the Paridae uploaded to the gallery) comes another one – one that is much more important. Right now, the gallery of birds in hand is complete. But what does that mean? Well, it means that I finally manage to process and upload all of the photos I took over the last five or six years.
It also means that today, there are:
- 59 different families of birds uploaded to the gallery
- of 202 species from Europe and tropical Africa
- which means 3 270 individual birds photographed (on average 16.2 per species, median 4).
- In total, there are 15 967 photos in the gallery!
Those are not totally unimpressive numbers, right? Let us focus a little bit on the most recent updates. I dedicated one whole article to the tits & chickadees as stated before (link above) but since then, I managed to finish and upload, one by one, four other families new to the gallery. To make them stand out a little bit, all the new additions are labelled with the “NEW” sign in the gallery for some time now. All these four families are somehow special to me, so let us check them out a bit:
- The dippers (Cinclidae) are quite unlike other temperate birds, because they live quite slow lives and, as a consequence, they can reach quite impressive ages. Combine it with high nest site fidelity and you have the highest number of individuals photographed in consequent years! That means, you can nicely observe change of the plumage of these charismatic birds throughout their lifes.
- Then there are the starlings (Sturnidae), or better to say just the Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris), which used to be one of my focus species in the past as I specialized in trapping them on their night roosts. And I was maybe the only ringer in the world doing that on purpose :). As a consequence, Common Starling is among those species in the gallery where the plumage maturation throughout the year and through the different moult cycles is captured best. From young birds in complete juvenile plumage, through their first moult into the winter white-flecked elegant coat with stylish black bills only to appear in the spring as iridescent shiny black torpedoes with yellow bills to finally fade into well worn featherballs which do not even resemble those elegant birds any more. I have to admit, unlike many of my colleague ringers, I still like this species, even though some evenings with mist nets full of these beasts were quite demanding.
- Next, there are the accentors (Prunellidae) with the sole species – the Dunnock (Prunella modularis). One of my most favourite birds and one which I consider especially eye catching for its sophisticated beauty. Beauty, that is maybe not evident at the first glance, but once you see it, you will fall in love with this little feathered definition of neat style. No wonder, there are quite a few pictures of this cryptic bird in the gallery. But I still lack a decent photo of a juvenile bird. I hope, I will change that this year.
- Last but not least are the buntings (Emberizidae), a family of birds which I especially cherish since the very beginning of my ornithological career. There is a special place in my heart for buntings, maybe because their simple but neat songs, and as in dunnocks, very sophisticated beauty. Last but not least, buntings prefer to inhabit more open areas, open woodlands and shrubby grasslands, which are my favourite habitats. But ornithologically speaking, ageing (and often also sexing) of buntings can be really quite pain in the ass. That is also one of the reasons I was hesitating with uploading this family for such a long time. I tried to carefully revise all the photos in the gallery before uploading them, but I am far from perfect and if you find a mistake, please let me know.
A little bit of history…
I started photographing the birds in autumn 2016, but most photos from back than are not really great and not standardized. So not many photos from 2016 were uploaded to the gallery. I started with the standardised photographing in mid 2017 and since then, the quality and standardization gradually improved. So if you want to see the better photos, try to look for those from 2020 and later. But I still kept a lot of those from earlier years as they can serve their purpose anyway: they illustrate some interesting colour variation within species or a certain phase of moult.
In 2016 I also officially started this website and from since the very beginning I had the idea of having a gallery of birds in hand which could be useful for other ringers and birders. But it took me another year and a half since I actually started the gallery itself (and at the same time I also migrated to this web address from a free hosting so because of the size of the gallery – it is about 14 GB large!). And since then, the slow process of continuously editing, renaming, sorting and uploading the photos began (and of course, taking new photos in the field). I decided to upload the photos on species by species basis rather then photo by photo. That meant that the gallery grew probably more slowly than it could as not only I worked on new species but I also continually updated already uploaded species with new and new photos.
But as stated above, this process is now over. I managed to upload all the photos of all the species I managed to photograph since 2016 to this day. Or almost all of them. I still have some photos of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) prepared but not uploaded. I will upload these later as I have some more plans with these two species. But that is really only a very minor part to the gallery right now and uploading them, when the time comes, is only a matter of minutes. Quite recently, I also created a separate page where I discuss the purpose of this gallery in more detail so anyone wondering why all that? can hopefully find his/her answer.
… and a little bit of future
So, the gallery is complete but does that mean that there are going to be no more additions? Certainly not, but their character will definitely change. In the past, I focused on capturing as many species as possible in as many seasons/moults/plumages/sexes/ages as possible. In many species I already achieved quite great coverage so there is basically no more reason to have yet another picture of e.g. a regular adult male Greenfinch. But in this kind of species, it is time to focus only on really interesting cases.
As stated before, in many species, especially passerines, I have quite detailed collection of sex and age specific plumages throughout the year. But there is one type of plumage that is lacking in many species that I find especially interesting – the juvenile plumage. The juvenile plumage is usually only a very short-lived plumage, many species have it only for few days before they start moulting into first adult plumage, but in many species it is so distinct it might poses some identification problems. And only by inspecting the juvenile plumage, one can learn with 100 % certainty how, for example, juvenile greater coverts or flight feathers really looks like. So my plan is to add juvenile plumage for most of the passerine species in the gallery. For non-passerines, the question about juvenile plumage is a bit more complex, so let’s just focus on passerines in this matter.
I will of course photograph any new species I might be able to trap and photograph for you, but truth is, I am now focusing more and more on certain groups of birds. Some of you might have already noticed that I am especially fond of the Sylvia warblers, bee-eaters or wagtails. These groups of birds, together with some other, will be probably updated more frequently than others. I will still add some interesting additions for other species, but some kind of specialization is necessary for me. The gallery starts to become a really huge project. I am also trying to utilize the photos in articles about birds (and not only ID articles), so you can expect more of this to come in the future.
Last but not least, I started experimenting with a more advanced ways how to show you the pictures in the gallery. Right now, everything is written in a simple html code which is time consuming and requires a lot of manual work with e.g. correcting errors. I would like to transition to some database based system which would also enable me to program some filters for you which would make browsing through the gallery much easier. That would be the program before the summer seasons fully starts here in central Europe and all those warblers and bee-eaters come again.
So stay tuned, I think those are some exciting plans. I hope you will find the gallery useful and that you will return here when you will need some reference photos for your work.
Thank you very much for visiting.