Monday, 2 January 2017

Eastern Stonechat? Richmond Park

Female 'Eastern Stonechat'?  (Click on images to enlarge/read captions). Several features suggest Siberian/Eastern Stonechat including the overall pale colouration, the pale un-streaked throat, the pale secondary panel, extensive/contrasting white in the inner greater and median coverts and due to the overall colouration- a pale ground colour to the rump and under-tail coverts. On closer inspection (See Lee's much better pics here) the primary projection is relatively short (ideally 90% in Siberian) and the rump and under-tail coverts are marked. On balance the bird does not really fit suites of features associated with either Atlantic/Continental or Siberian/Eastern Stonechats.
 A nearby female-type Atlantic/Continental Stonechat. Needless to say there is a striking difference in appearance. 
 This early morning grainy picture helps to show the areas of contrast with extensive pale tips to the coverts, a pale secondary panel and pale tips to the primaries. The contrasts are so great that the bird almost recalls a Black-and-white flycatcher. An impression not generally associated with Siberian/Eastern Stonechat. The extensive pale fringes suggests some kind of overall 'pale'/ washed out aberration. 
 Again the stiking contrast with a nearby Atlantic/Continental Stonechat
 Underwing and axillary pattern- closer to typical Atlantic/Continental 
 The contrast between the tail and uppertail coverts and rump give the impression of a pale rump/uppertail coverts in flight

Fortunately samples of faeces have been collected and the first samples have been sent for DNA analysis. This bird has been present since October but since the surprise DNA identification (A Stejneger's Stonechat from northeast Asia)  of a bird at Dungeness that shows some similar features HERE, the case has been re-opened.

The Dunge bird today to compare (thanks Jan!)

Stonechat identification is notoriously difficult and still a work in progress. HBW lists 24!! sub-species. 

In short, the DNA analysis and conclusions will be very interesting indeed.


After watching the Stonechats...... it had to be done (a beautiful park and wildlife- also had Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch, ((more from Kojak HERE )) ): 

 Fallow Deer
 Fallow Deer (a darker morph) 
 Red Deers
 Red Deer
Red Deer


Lee Dingain said...

Nice analysis. I've read that the colour of the axillaries/underwing coverts for 'Eastern' is blackish for males and greyish for females. Interesting bird whatever it is.

Peter Alfrey said...

Interesting and striking bird. Oliver mentioned that the black could be due to wear by the spring too.

Chris Townend (aka Jaffa) said...

Nice write up Pete and an interesting bird - See you soon.

Peter Alfrey said...

Cheers Jaff!

Arjun Dutta said...

Thanks for the analysis Peter.
I was going to go up to Richmond too yesterday but was ill so has to wait.
Really is an interesting bird.

Peter Alfrey said...

It's been there since October so hopefully will hang around for you. Good luck Arjun!