Thursday 22 May 2014

Black-headed Bunting

As reported on in our last blog post, May is the time for spring migration and yesterday there was another bird on Skomer who's breeding grounds lay somewhere way to the south east of here, possibly no closer than Italy. There were also three Red Kites yesterday.

It was another very difficult to identify species but we think it is a Black-headed Bunting, who's close relative, the Red-headed Bunting, it sometimes interbreeds with. Adult males in breeding plumage are striking with a black head, reddish back and yellow underparts but females and young birds are much more tricky. I wont go into too much detail but it has a slightly darker patch behind its eye (ear coverts), streaking on the head, very yellow underparts and quite a long bill. It is quite muted generally which might indicate a young female (approx. 1 year old). Jason (Assistant Warden), who found the bird, has experience of the species from The Farne Islands, on the east coast, but this is a new bird for me, so if anyone can add to the debate please feel free.

Female Black-headed Bunting

The lack of 'warm' red-brown tones in the upper parts possibly indicate a young bird   

Some crown and mantle (back) streaking is visible in this photo

All pictures Black-headed Bunting, Edward Stubbings

Eddie Stubbings, Skomer Warden

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