Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Confronting Bunting hunting

I couldn't resist another trip to Fordham, having been constrained by the disappointing weather yesterday morning with Dunc. The light was perfect today- almost too bright for photography, but i thought i would add these snaps after reading Dunc's assessment of the bunting. I completely agree with the ageing- my first pic clearly shows the central tail feather markings- sharp lanceolate dark centres......

 but- i reckon it's a male, not a female. On these next two pictures you can clearly see that the lesser and median coverts are white- on a female they would be blackish with white edging.

 The trouble with looking at the closed wing on these things is that it is really hard to see the complete pattern on the coverts- some of them seem dark and some seem white, but when the wing is spread.....

What a shockingly bad picture i know, but it was hard to get the bugger in flight as it did not care to fly and on the two occasions when it wingstretched it was facing me and i didn't have my camera on the scope anyway. However, you can see that the primary coverts are in fact mostly white, with just black tips.

Ive dug out a photo I took at Holkham a while ago- these are mostly female types, and you can see how little white there is. Of course, then comes the question of race. I have always been under the impression that birds that turn up on the Norfolk coast must be nivalis from scandinavia, and this Fordham bird, I assume is the same, but having just had a glance at Martin Garner's site- he reckons that insulae, from Iceland (and the Scottish mountains) is more common. There may be a geographical shift from insulae in the north and west, to nivalis in the east and south- that would sound logical- all I will say is that it's not a vlasowae from siberia.
BWP is, incidentally quite vague about plumage descriptions of these things, and most of the conclusions i've made have stemmed from looking at Swennson and Birding Frontiers.