Saturday, 24 December 2016

Stejneger`s Stonechat, Lydd-on-Sea

Lade - mild and cloudy - Another unseasonably mild day with occasional flirtations through the clouds by the sun. A Peregrine sat atop the wall `mirror` keeping the wildfowl and Woodpigeons on `Orange Alert`(if you`re under 60, look it up!) but I couldn't locate the Slavonian Grebe on south lake. Elsewhere during a circuit of the local patch a Great White Egret flew over the willow swamp, where Chiffchaff and Cetti`s Warbler were also noted, while along the beach hundreds of gulls and waders had returned to feed on an ebb tide.

                               Stejneger`s Stonechat, Saxicola stejneri, Lydd-on-Sea

Eastern Stonechat, Lydd-on-Sea
Following DNA (poo) analysis the distinctive grey stonechat present in and around the Kerton Road triangle scrub between 8th November and 5th December has been confirmed as a stejneri type. The so called `Stejneger`s Stonechat` is one of several races attributed to the tricky to identify taxon of Eastern Stonechats (including Siberian and Caspian types) that breed across central Asia and Siberia.
  As Siberean Stonechat, Saxicola maurus has been recently elevated to full species status by the BBRC/BOU it therefore follows that the race stejneri falls under the Eastern banner making it somewhat rarer than we first thought; I`m not much of a lister, but that would increase our year list to 215 species, if only I were counting! Seriously though, following a lean autumn migration season down here this record was welcome news, even if it was confirmed by scientific wizardry that most of us don't understand.
  But, rather than try to work out why it was one, based on confusing field observations, I think I shall just reflect in awe at the vast distances it travelled across Eurasia to pitch up on our shores.

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