Sunday, 13 November 2011

Sunshine and Snow Buntings

A text from Kearsney Birder, Phil Smith had me on the move to Langdon Hole. Phil had just found a Great Grey Shrike, featured this evening on his blog, and I hope to catch up with it.

I met Phil near by and he told me it had flown over Upper Road towards the two remaining "Three Sisters". A walk round the area failed to re-find it but it wasn't without interest. The large stubble filed was full of Skylarks, Corn Buntings and Yellowhammers and the scrubby hedges held at least four Stonechats. I also saw two Buzzard, two Peregrines and a Little Owl, all in the glorious sunshine we were blessed with today.

Stonechats must get very regularly photographed as there can be few birds as obliging. This male bird did a little dance on the twig he was settled on.

In the light conditions they looked absolutely splendid, and they pair I was watching here chose some very good perches.

The female is not nearly so strikingly marked, but the plumage does shadow the pattern of the males hood and collar.
All the time I watched them they kept making the little tutting contact call, like two stones banging together, that gives them their name.

In the end I had to tare myself away from these posers and continue my unsuccessful search for "Phil's Shrike".

The Yellowhammers were mainly feeding out in the stubble and not in view until they flew, giving their characteristic "tzit" call.

Occasionally one would perch up, although I failed to get a clear view today, then their incredibly bright yellow heads almost shone out.

A surprise awaited me as I got back to the car, two Snow Buntings dropped down onto the tarmac of the old airfield just a few yards from me.

I think that this is probably a first winter male in it's fresh plumage, when it flew it had a lot of white in the wings.

And this is a female bird.

The female scuttle off into the long grass but the male was extremely confiding. This is often the case with just one or two Snow Buntings, they seem quite oblivious to people.

I have a feeling that these birds had only just arrived. They didn't seem to have got down to feeding yet.
It eventually joined it's companion in the longer gras and I left them to rest and feed. Hopefully they'll stay around a while, there always good to see. More pictures here.

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