Category Archives: 17) Chats and Thrushes


aka Kashmir Tien Shan Redstart… at Scarborough

Found on Saturday by resident and local Scarborough birder Steve Pinder in and around his garden. As most field guides don’t illustrate such new and emerging species as the Eastern Black Redstart (seen what I sneaked in there) he thought it must be a male Common Redstart. Thankfully Long Nab devotee, Nick Addey thought he’d better take a look. BOOM! Britain’s 5th ever Eastern Black Redstart taxon: phoenicuroides.

P.S. Excellent craic with Flambro and Filey birders- Rich and Gaynor, Phil C. and Mark (WBD) Pearson…

Eastern Black Redstart Scarboro 1st Dec 2014 j

It’s a 1cy male with mostly adult type greater coverts on the left wing but more obvious mix of juvenile and adult type greater coverts on the right wing. A bit of video (it looks very smart!)

The wing formula looks good for phoenicuroides but here it is for the further close study with primary tips and some emarginations action :). Eastern Black Redstart Scarboro 1st Dec 2014 f


and I was very grateful to capture some calls as it had bouts of being quite vocal. Want to look at this versus other redstart calls when get chance. Of jump in if you are interested and have comment to make on these calls.

Eastern Black Redstart Scarboro 1 dec 2014 sonagram


Eastern Black Redstart Scarboro 1st Dec 2014 h

Eastern Black Redstart Scarboro 1st Dec 2014 e

Stejneger’s Stonechat

Not so tricky?

Martin Garner

Following confirmed occurrence in NW Europe (Britain, Netherlands and Finland) in the last 2 years the early murmurings were about how these were not really identifiable in the field.

As my Canadian past self might articulate “Is that right?”

I am gaining confidence that they really are identifiable. Illustrating their distinctiveness from  Siberian Stonechat ‘maurus’, a greater challenge can be separating some Stejneger’s from the European Stonechat hibernates/rubicola. Lots more in this book of course 🙂

Have a look at these 3 shots which encapsulate key features of this 1st winter female on Fair Isle this autumn- with thanks to Fair Isle warden, David Parnaby. More on that bird HERE.

Stejneger's Stonechat 3 Stejneger's Stonechat2 Stejneger's Stonechat 1


As a reminder here’s the 1st winter male in October 2012 in Britain and Netherlands (DNA confirmed). More on that bird HERE.



Here’s a 1st winter male from Orivesi, Pappilanniemi, Finland on 7th November 2013 (DNA confirmed). This last one features in a must-read paper in British Birds by Magnus Hellström and Gabriel Norevik. More HERE.

Beautiful and fuller set of photos by Jani Vastamäki are HERE.



Siberian Chiffchaff heads

Ottenby Bird Observatory, Sweden

Magnus Hellström

Here’s a photo with a slight nerd warning, primarily for those of you deeply into this subject…

During the autumn we caught 12 Chiffchaffs at Ottenby Bird Observatory, which we have recorded as Siberian Chiffchaffs ‘tristis’. Several were very typical but also some best described as ‘fulvescens’ (western tristis)- showing slight presence of yellow, and perhaps a trifle more olive above. The image is a rather amusing compilation, and gives a quick impression of the variation.

Click on to see closer/ larger size.


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



Eastern Black Redstart

Andrea Corso has been in touch. Though he’s not on this special island,  but Ottavio Janni is. A couple of days ago was Ottavio’s first day on the island. Result: 1 Little Bunting, 4 Yellow-browed warblers and THIS Redstart.

Nice one Ottavio (all his photos). Looks a very good candidate for the eastern phoenicuroides. The buff fringes to wing coverts and the emergent black bib make it a first winter male.

I was a bit wary about the whiter looking fringes to secondaries but a scroll through photos and chat with Andrea seem to make it ok.

Remember this guy? These are stunning birds. Maybe more in NW Europe this autumn?

032 038 DSCN3248 DSCN3266DSCN3271 022

Eighteen of Eighteen

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

The first shall be last. This was the first and biggest chapter to be written. It’s the last in the book. 6 taxa, all kinds of new info, new species possibilities and surely some big finds to come this autumn for those prepared…

For more on the content and how to buy the book click HERE.

1cy male Siberian Stonechat- maurus. October. Martin Garner

1cy male Siberian Stonechat- maurus. October. Martin Garner



Unusual Whinchat vocalisation in the North Pennines

It is great when reasonably common species throw up something new. Chris Hind observed a Whinchat with an usual call in the North Pennines recently; he shares his observations here.

In the North Pennines I heard a male Whinchat giving a call that I was unfamiliar with.
The bird was producing the normal ‘yu – tek, yu – tek’ series of sounds but also adding in some ‘hoeet’ elements. It almost sounded as if a nearby Willow Warbler was joining in but no, I could see this bird vocalising all the sounds as it opened its bill for each note. I made a sound recording as it continued to call in this same way.

Sonogram showing atypical call

Sonogram showing atypical call

The use of mimicry in the song of Whinchat is well documented (BWP) but there is no reference to any other elements in the call other than the two ‘yu’ and ‘tek’ sounds. Similarly I have been unable to find any sound recordings indicating variance from the normal calls. Personal communication with local ‘Whinchat workers’ has also revealed no atypical calls in their experience.

Chris Hind.