in the garden, but just passing through…
Out at end of Flamborough head, light spring passage includes Chaffinches, Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer in small numbers at the moments.
I have had a little passion for Yellowhammers for quite a while. Looked at lots. Know the drill. Males with rufous in roughly the moustache/malar region are very common. Nowt out of the ordinary. However last Friday a male appeared in the garden with a rufous band under the throat. Now that grabbed my attention. I have personally never seen that pattern on a male Yellowhammer. Indeed I knew it was interesting. Why? Probably indicates some level of Pine Bunting ‘influence’. Check out a picture of a male Pine Bunting. The two places you expect chestnut to show on yellow Yellowhammer with Pine Bunt bits? The chestnut on the throat, a and chestnut around eye.
This bird had both. So I grabbed a couple of distant shots. Took me another couple of hours of effort over next 2 days to get better pics. And the bird appears to have moved on.
think I’m making it up ?
“Birds with chestnut spotted or full malar stripe occur frequently in various populations, without clear trend; birds with patches of rufous elsewhere on head, throat or upper chest occur mainly in East European Russia and Asia, probably due to introgression of characters of Pine Bunting E. leucocephalus.”
Anyone can add to the picture, we are keen to learn. It may be vestigial characters on this individual (I can find photos of odd trapped Yellowhammer with rufous around the eye in W Europe by scrolling t’internet) or may be evidence of recent (several generations?) introgression- thus this individual is already ‘from the east’. Both scenarios or entirely possible.
Lancashire December 2003
Meanwhile I think this is also one with more rufous, photographed by Chris Batty at Bradshaw Lane Head, Pilling Moss, Lancashire on 30th December 2003. We featured it HERE
and this one with even more rufous (see how the pattern increases) from Calle
Sweden February 2015
Saw your picture of the possible hybrid bunting on Twitter! I photographed a bunting earlier this winter (February 8th) in my garden in Sweden that I consider to be a Yellowhammer X Pine Bunting. Here are some pictures of it!
March and April and good bunting migration/ movements months. I’ll keep looking.
Thanks to Frédéric Jiguet check out this bird written up in Dutch Birding:
Jiguet F 2003, Dutch Birding 25-5, 323-326. Hybrid Yellowhammer x Pine Bunting in central France in May-June 2002.
Attached are the three photos of the male, presumed hybrid, that I caught at a breeding site in western France. Caught and ringed 27 May 2002, recaptured on site 24 June 2002.
This male had a very pale yellow head with dark bold blackish stripes (being the most Pine-trends), but deeper yellow on face, a very large rufous band on the breast (Pine-pointing too), pale lower flanks and vent.
The possibility of an hybrid Cirl x Yellow was considered but rapidly excluded.
and a normal male in the garden yesterday in low evening sun