Thursday, 13 October 2016

Ortolan Bunting

After a very quiet Spring for migrants Autumn has exceeded all expectations. Its all down to continuing easterly winds which seem to have been blowing for days. This has blown Siberian birds to Shetland and around the east coast of the UK.

After all the excitement of the Siberian Accentor, things have calmed down a bit, news of people spending up to £900 hiring planes and cars to see or miss out on the Accentor is not an unusual story. 

I met a couple of birders who left it too late arriving the morning after the bird left. They may have had some consolation in see the Black faced bunting on Bressay although it never gave good views, mostly only in flight. Swainson's Thrush, Pallas Warbler, Dusky Warbler and a couple of Red Flanked Bluetail may have perhaps lessened the blow.


I finally caught up with the Ortolan Bunting at Brake which showed very well, most of the time sat on a bale of hay, a distance view perhaps but still a nice bird. A Red Breasted Flycatcher and Yellow Browed Warbler both showed briefly on a nearby fence

It is amazing that the Ortolan Bunting was a regularly eaten bird by the French public up to just recently. Having had a 30% decline, (50,000 caught a year),  it is now a protected bird with fines of over £4800 being imposed in France for anyone killing or cooking the bird.

This Ortolan many have come from the Scandinavia rather than the French population

A short distance away at Quendale I found 3 Mealy Redpoll, this particular one spent most of the time on the ground eating seed and allowed a close approach

Mealy Redpoll is larger and looks paler than the Lesser Redpoll. It only occasionally breeds in Britain but normally arrives in Autumn and Winter from the north of Scandinavia. These Quendale birds coincided with the arrival of other birds from Fife to Kent.

Mealy Redpoll migrate great distances but very occasionally pairs do nest in Shetland, recently a pair bred at Gairdins O' Sands where 3 juveniles were seen in June 2014.

 The collective name for a flock of Redpoll is a `Gallup'

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