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

  3 Responses 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

  2. If you google Stejneger’s Stonechat you will find several snippets of information from Birding Frontiers, such as:-
    Safe separation from east Siberian stejnegeri is trickier, and is generally not possible in single individuals. On average, stejnegeri in fresh plumage is a somewhat darker bird with a warmer colour scale, less developed neck patches and a smaller white/ochrous rump pattern. The Shetland bird does look typical maurus-like, and imo gives no actual reason for suspecting stejnegeri.

    • Hi Alan Thanks for reply to Stejneger’s Stonechat article. Lots still to learn about Eastern race Stonechats 🙂
      Regards
      Tony

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