Sunday, 26 March 2017

Continental Stonechat

The record number of Spring passage Stonechats through Wanstead Flats hasn't abated just yet, with another new bird found on Saturday - but this rather striking looking male is the first bird which I've come across showing several features more in common with Continental Stonechat (rubicola) than our British breeding birds (hibernans). This is not a big surprise, as the south-east of England continues to record more and more continental 'type' birds aided mainly by its geographical location.

The complexities of Stonechat in regards to race give even Redpolls a run for their money - and you need to be some kind of scientist to unravel all their overlapping genes* (see foot of page). But in this bird the key features which stood out were the pronounced white collar, contrasting with the jet-black head and very dark mantle, back and wings. There were noticeably large, broad white-wing patches, and the bright flame orange breast didn't continue onto the underparts and also a white rump (although slightly streaked) - in hindsight it would have been good to get a few flight photos as seeing the underwing pattern might also have been interesting.

Rubicola, male

Rubicola, male
The white rump is just about viewable in this photo.

Rubicola, male

*Just as a footnote; whilst watching the bird I happen to noticed it poo on the top of a wooden post and have collected a sample for DNA analysis - all I need now is a scientist to kindly extract the DNA!


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