Monday 9 November 2020

Stonechat at Happisburgh confirmed as Siberian Stonechat (Stejneger's)

You may recall from earlier blog posts that Nick and I found an interesting Stonechat in early October at Cart Gap that looked a strong candidate for 'Stejnegeri' (see  A day to remember and  Follow-up Chat).

Fair play to Richard Moores who refound the bird the following Monday and obtained a faecal sample. This has now been analysed and the results have confirmed the bird as Siberian Stonechat (Stejneger's), the 2nd confirmed record for Norfolk.

There's some excellent shots of the bird on Birding World by Steve Gantlett plus a large selection of shots of 'Siberian' Stonechats seen in Norfolk and other localities in the UK. Given that the Salthouse bird and now this one have both been identified as 'Stejnegeri' then this may start to provide birders with enough information to reliably identify one in the field without needing genetic analysis. 

I saw the Salthouse bird in 2018 which was confirmed, through genetic analysis, to be 'Stejnegeri'. This was the first confirmed record for Norfolk. I forgot I had a photo of it until I trawled through my files.

Siberian 'Stejnegers' Stonechat - Salthouse, Norfolk - November 2018

I also saw the very dapper Siberian Stonechat at Caister on Sea in 2015, however this was never assigned to either form maura or stejnegeri.

Siberian Stonechat, Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk - November 2015

Nocmig Update

No sooner had I finished my mid-October week off when the east winds swung around to the west and the autumn seemed to stop dead in its tracks. Perfect timing considering I was back at work! However, the change in wind direction brought wet and very breezy weather. No good for 'nocmigging'. I recorded on Saturday 17th October (when I had what may be Spotted Redshank, I'm struggling to think what else it could be) but otherwise that was it for the rest of October.


However, in the first week of November the weather cleared up a bit and there were a number of calm and dry nights where I was able to record.

Wednesday the 4th November was especially good. I'd only just put my parabola out when a Tawny Owl started hooting from the back of the garden. I know they are common birds in the UK but the sound is so evocative to me and this bird was so close.



Later the same night I had a Barn Owl once again (first time was last September), considering I'm in a built-up suburban area, this is still a surprise to me.


 Redwing passage was steady all night, plus Blackbirds and the odd Song Thrush. I kept the recorder going after dawn and picked up Redpoll, Brambling and Crossbill.


Over the course of the next few nights I continued to record. Redwing, Blackbird and Song Thrush movements continued steadily. Plus I managed to record Fieldfare too. 


 Dunlin were recorded three nights in a row including this close sounding fly-past.


 Pink-footed Geese also put in an appearance.