'Storm Wigeon' appears on Anglesey


A 'Storm Wigeon' – a male American Wigeon showing a striking and rarely seen plumage variation – has been found on Anglesey.

The striking bird was seen at Cors Ddyga RSPB on 2 November, but hasn't been reported again subsequently.

A typical male American Wigeon shows a creamy-white forecrown that contrasts with the grey-speckled cheeks and neck. However, much or all of this speckling is missing in Storm Wigeon, leading to an extensively pale white or pale golden face pattern that makes the iridescent green eyestripe stand out even more. This gives it another commonly used moniker of 'White-cheeked Wigeon'.

The frequency of Storm Wigeon in North America has not been extensively studied, but it is generally considered rare and as such is a highly desired prize by wildfowlers. Estimates as to its incidence range from one in 500 birds to one in 1,000. In some areas, though, it can be more frequent than this, but in other areas seemingly much rarer.

A male 'Storm Wigeon' photographed in Washington, United States.

It is believed that the name of Storm Wigeon originated many years ago from hunters in the western US, who would see these unusual variants appear following the passing of a storm from more northerly climes.

Storm Wigeon can vary in appearance, with some individuals having a fully clean white or golden head and neck, while others (such as the Anglesey bird) show some grey speckling on the cheeks or neck.