Stejneger’s Stonechat on Fair Isle

At least it looks that way

all photos by David Parnaby

Sibe Stenchat

31st October – 2nd November 2014… so far

David Parnaby, warden of Fair Isle Bird Observatory writes:

This Stonechat has been with us three days now, but has been incredibly elusive and jumpy. Finally got some photos this morning (2nd Nov) that appear to confirm our field suspicions of:

  • Unmarked, orange rump
  • Pale throat
  • Relatively prominent supercilium (esp when viewed from the front)
  • Unmarked flanks
  • Pale wing panel (pale edges to secondaries/tertials)

The tentative conclusion is that it looks like Stejneger’s Stonechat is the best fit.

They are surely right on the money. It’s a first winter and with non black underwing- a female. Perhaps therefore the first female Stejneger’s to be identified in the Western Palearctic (albeit with all that tentative stuff). I checked with Nils van Duivendijk and Andy Stoddart who also thought it basically looked the biz. The primary projection (I think) looks too long for European birds, the supercilium bit thicker than some Stejneger’s but probably OK. However check out  those lovely plain flanks and the colour of that plain rump!

Perhaps it travelled on the same flight over as the Eastern Crowned Warbler?

Lots more on identifying Stejneger’s Stonechat in the Challenge Series: AUTUMN which according to David Parnaby helped with the ID process of this bird.

Hooray! that’s what the book was all about 🙂

Sibe Stenchat4Sibe Stenchat5Sibe Stenchat(flight)Sibe Stenchat7 Sibe Stenchat3 Sibe Stenchat6



5 thoughts on “Stejneger’s Stonechat on Fair Isle

  1. Tim Allwood

    To my eyes this is very similar to a bird at Eccles Oct 21, 2012. That too had an unmarked orangey/peach-toned rump, unmarked flanks and a very obvious pale tertial/secondary panel. The Eccles bird also looked extremely similar to the Portland 2012 bird and arrived just before a Pale-legged Leaf Warbler also at Portland.

    I will send you a photo Martin.

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Hi Tim.

      seems like on or two candidate stejnegeri are coming to the surface- be great to see a photo. Thanks for getting in touch


  2. J McCallum

    There was a dark 1st winter fem on Fair Isle in Sept 08 – found by Simon Davies I believe. To me it appeared remarkably dark in the field with an unmarked darkish orangey rump. Its field impression was not one of an immediately obvious pale Siberian Stonechat.

    (I saw a 1st W fem similar to this latest FI bird on 24th Oct 97 at Holkham. I was working on the NNR at the time. We were putting up barb-wire fencing and during our lunch break we sat in the truck eating sandwiches and it arrived to inspect our handywork. Lovely little dark thing with a pale throat & wing-panel – I wrote in the description that it had an unstreaked rump of similar tone to its back (i.e. not contrastingly paler) – which in the 1990s BBRC regarded as a no-no for Siberian Stonechat!
    So clearly a few of these darker birds turning up. I’ve no experience or opinion on them other than they appear noticeably different from the more typical/familiar pale birds we used to regularly get in the 1990s – what ever happened to Siberian Stonechats? They used to be a regular feature of autumns in the 1990s.)

  3. Grahame Walbridge

    The Fi bird you refer to was on 26th Sept 2008, on the early side, but looks a good candidate for stejnegeri.

    Actually James, BBRC were aware of occasional darker birds in the 1990’s and it was suggested that they may be stejnegeri at the time; at least three of five accepted birds on Fair Isle in 26th Oct-9th Nov 1991, with similar birds at Spurn and Happisburgh (year?). I found a very dark individual at Southwell, Portland on 19th October 1999, sadly not photographed.

    It seems numbers of (presumed) maurus have genuinely declined in recent decades.


Leave a Reply