I hitched an early morning ride with Pete and Dylan Alfrey to Richmond Park to see a Stonechat that had gained itself much attention and created discussion since its arrival last October. After a small detour in getting there we began out short trek from the Sheen car park to the area the bird was frequenting.
We were halted in our tracks a few metres from the mobile obs by a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker a Nuthatch and Coal Tit followed soon after. The next species Common Stonechat was of particular interest to have fresh in the mind for comparison with our intended quarry.
There are not too many gatherings of Surrey VC / Surrey birders but it is always great to meet folk that you either only associate with from FB or Twitter. The Tice’s gang were there too. Congratulations on winning your bid! The last time I saw Franko was in similar circumstances!
Our target has been likened to an Eastern race of Stonechat which breeds in Siberia (maurus, stejnegeri). A similar bird which is still present at Dungeness has had an initial DNA result suggesting it is of the race stejnegeri adding extra interest factor to this bird. I understand that a second DNA test is to be completed in relation to the Dungeness bird.
The good news is that a sample of droppings has been collected and submitted for DNA analysis and I guess it is a waiting game to establish the identity of this bird which incidentally showed well while we were there.
Pete has provided an excellent breakdown and discussion about the features of this bird therefore I won’t go into great detail beyond the pictures I took of the bird. A very interesting bird whatever the outcome! http://peteralfreybirdingnotebook.blogspot.co.uk/ .
The walk back to the obs diverted our attention to the marvellous numbers of Red and Fallow Deer in the park.
and a few Rabbits. Who said London was just a concrete jungle!
I spent the rest of the day chasing the Glaucous Gull around Beddington Farm which I caught up with on the area of the lagoons having missed it on the lake by seconds.
There is something very exciting about January birding! Note to self: Improve my digi-scoping and learn to type quicker (Last to post again)!