Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A Little Bunting Day

The intention was to just fill the feeders and drop more seed for the hungry Bramblings at Rawcliffe, and then do a little birding, leaving the ringing for the better forecast of tomorrow. With the wind speed nil and a number of birds around I decided to stay for a while, until that is the wind picked up about 1030 and forced me to close the nets. 

In the meantime more Bramblings appeared in the nets along with a national rarity, a Little Bunting Emberiza pusilla. Little Buntings breeds across the taiga of the far northeast of Europe and northern Asia. It is a migratory species wintering in the subtropics of northern India, southern China and the northern parts of Southeast Asia. It is a rare vagrant to Western Europe and the UK. 

Birds caught: 4 Brambling, 3 Reed Bunting, 2 Chaffinch, 2 Goldfinch, 1 Little Bunting. 

The Little Bunting was in a net alongside two Reed Buntings, the Little Bunting immediately recognisable because of its diminutive size, fine, straight bill, distinctive head pattern, obvious whitish eye ring and pink legs. The measurements were equally tiny, a wing length of 68mm and a weight of just 12.7 grams. 

Little Bunting

Little Bunting

For comparison with the smaller bunting, one of today’s male Reed Buntings. 

Reed Bunting - Emberiza schoeniclus

More Bramblings today takes the winter November to March total here to 55, so definitely something of a “Brambling Winter” with the second highest yearly total of this species for the ringing group. The Reed Bunting total for the same winter period stands now at 49 birds as the buntings continue to roam local farmland, eventually finding their way to my feeding station. 



Mentioning Reed Buntings reminds me  of a couple of recent records of their local autumn/ winter wanderings. The first involved a young bird Y763574 ringed in the summer of 2012 on July 30th at the Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, near Silverdale. I recaptured the bird at Rawcliffe Moss on 5th January 2013, a distance of just 34 kms - a fairly typical way that Reed Buntings seem to roam during autumn and winter. 

A second record involves Y279071, a first calendar year Reed Bunting caught at Out Rawcliffe on 25th September 2011 and later caught by another ringer at Knott End on 29th January 2012. This bird too shows another typical short distance movement of just 10kms. 

Reed Bunting movements

More bird news and pictures from Another Bird Blog soon. Stay tuned.


Gail Dixon said...

The bramblings are having an excellent year. It's so neat to see how they travel through the banding (ringing) process. Great work and gorgeous photos!

Wally Jones said...

I'm happy the wind cooperated long enough to allow you to get the Little Bunting! Good show!
Very interesting post!

All the best, Wally.

Craig Brookes said...

Nice one Phil.

Findlay Wilde said...

Great pictures, we got a leucistic Brambling at the weekend. From Findlay

Chris said...

Cool post Phil. A long time I haven't visited you sorry mate! Things are starting to move here too cause the winter was surprisingly quite mild and we even still have waxwings...

eileeninmd said...

Phil, I think the banding can be as addictive as birding. Great shots, I love the cute Little Bunting. Have a great day and Happy birding!

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Very interesting to read about what you can learn from the ringing..I am learning so much just from reading about your work.

Russell Jenkins said...

That's a great record of the Little Bunting. Your pictures and comparisons are brilliant too. I would have little idea of what was what if they were fluttering about me but they are unique and distinctive. Birding experience would certainly be essential in IDing these guys, the cuties that they are.

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I thought about you this morning, when I was reading the article in the March/April issue of Audubon Magazine..."On The Edge" Why Birds Matter, Endangered Species. They use mist netting techniques to catch the very rare Grasshopper Sparrows. How sad that man makes it so difficult for so many of nature's beauties! Love those Buntings, and yes, the Bramblings too!!!

Stuart Price said...

Great find Phil!

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