Oct 272018
 

An “Eastern” Stonechat was discovered, a week or so ago, in fields at Salthouse in Norfolk. I decided to go and see this bird and managed to do that on Friday 26th October 2018.

The identification challenge – is it a Stejneger’s Stonechat (a potential third record for Britain) or the more regular and less rare, Siberian Stonechat? The complexities on the identification of “Eastern Stonechats” are well known, but not so well documented, as Stejneger’s Stonechat has only recently been split to a separate species. Since, there have been a number of papers published and an excellent account can be found in “Birding Frontiers Challenge Series” – Autumn, by the late Martin Garner. A pioneering article on the subject of identifying “Eastern” Stonechats.

Stejneger’s Stonechat breeds in north-east Asia and now seems to have an established pattern of vagrancy into Western Europe, with birds turning up from early October, peaking in late October, early November. 

Currently it seems that confirmation to species can only be validated 100% by DNA analysis, but as more birds are discovered, surely there will be a reliable method of field identification criteria established?

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Note the small orange-chestnut rump patch – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Note the darker markings on upper parts – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Note the prominent isolated white throat – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – As with both “Eastern” Stonechat species, note the “Whinchat like” appearance – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Note the fresh plain flanks

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Plumage tones changed in varying degrees of light – Tony Davison©

Probable Stejneger’s Stonechat – Salthouse, Norfolk – Tony Davison©

 

 Posted by at 7:40 pm

  One Response to “An Identification Challenge – Stejneger’s Stonechat”

  1. I have been trying to find out how you identify Stejneger’s Sontchat and apparently there is article in the Challenge series by Martin Garner but that book is completely unavailable! So where can you find out how to tell Stejneger’s from Siberian?? I know there is a slightly broader bill base but there must be other reasons why this species was suspected with this bird…. would love to know
    Thanks
    Roy Atkins

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