Moussier’s Redstart

Plumage not in the books

I’ve not even had chance to talk about other stuff seen on Linosa, such as Moltoni’s Warbler, Spectacled Warbler, Sardinian Warbler, Laughing Dove, Serin and Corn Bunting, Quail, Wryneck,  grey and rufous Skylarks, Firecrest, Scopoli’s Shearwater, Fan-tailed Warbler, Vagrant Emperor Dragonflies and the ubiquitous Maltese Wall Lizard. 

9th November was pretty much my last full day, and what a finish! This was just the kind of bird I came to Linosa for. Thankfully we were all birding in a similar area when Andrea called to say he thought he had a Moussier’s Redstart. Monster! Somewhere between 10-20 records in Europe, ever. Both very rare and fascinating learning.

Here it is:

Moussier’s Redstart (1st winter female), Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Martin Garner.

You won’t find this plumage type illustrated in your field guide! With grey brown (not orange) underparts, the overall plumage was not massively dissimilar to some female type Black Redstarts. On careful inspection tad paler and slightly different ‘brown tone’ with pale tips to underparts feather giving ‘flammulated’ effect (excellent word Ottavio!). Most important feature of underparts for me: the slightly paler throat patch with darker malar strips (like young Pied Flycatcher). Size hard to assess when alone, but when Black Redstart appeared nearby, it dwarfed the Moussier’s.

It was an aweful lot about jizz. A small rounded ball of fluff of a bird with stuck on tail, legs too long, and primaries too short. Only in the depths of BWP is this browner plumage covered:

BWP “Chest, breast, and flanks rather variable: either greyish-brown with some faint rufous-brown on feather-bases, or light orange-brown with grey wash on chin, throat, and chest, or rather deep rufous-cinnamon with faint grey feather-fringes (similar to but less intense than adult ♂)”

Thankfully Andrea knew the species very well.

Moussier’s Redstart (1st winter female), Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Martin Garner. A ball of fluff with legs too long and primaries too short.

Our little Linosa group scanning the temporary home of the Moussier’s Redstart.

Moussier’s Redstart (1st winter female), Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Michele Viganò. Flammulated brownish toned underparts and Pied Flycatcher malars.

Moussier’s Redstart (1st winter female), Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Michele Viganò

Moussier’s Redstart (1st winter female), Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Michele Viganò

View of the same area from the topside.

adult male Black Redstart, Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Martin Garner. About 10 of these were around the Moussier’s and I reckon up to 1000 Black Redstarts on the island each day.

Dotterel, Linosa, 9th November 2011 © Igor Maoriano. Having had our fill, we walked a few hundred yards to finish off an excellent day with 3 Dotterel, new in and viewed at point black range. A fine ending.

Linosa. A beautiful volcanic island. This is one of my favourite pieces of multicoloured ‘firestone’. It’s also one of the first sights seen as it overshadows the harbour.

That’s all on Linosa from now.  Hope I get back there again. Good night

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
This entry was posted in Chats and Thrushes, Linosa. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Moussier’s Redstart

  1. Harry Hussey says:

    Wow, this is much more subtle than I expected for the species (didn’t see many female in Morocco some years back, and I was there in April anyway). Something to be aware of even further north, just in case…

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