Snow Bunting in Sheffield

from where?

Popped out y’day morning to see the Snow Bunting at Orgreave. Fascinating incredibly hardy birds who live in some of the harshest environments on the planet (and I don’t mean Orgreave!). I suspect the age, sex and subspecies of this one to be….

But I thought you might like to have a go! Determining race, sex and age of Snow Buntings can be quiet a challenge. I did a post on the subject a while back. And then there is the Siberian form as well.

What do you think this one is (subspecies/age/sex)?

and having fun washing

130 Pink-footed Geese flew over and an adult Yellow-legged Gull loafed about on the far shore. I then went over to Waverley and after much effort found c40 Lesser Redpoll, with at least one obvious Mealy Redpoll and maybe a ‘brown Mealy’. Also c35 Goldfinch and 6 Yellowhammer coming down to the seed Roy and I put out.

Then Roy rang twice. Once to say he was seeing nothing, then 10 minutes later- he had found a Rough-legged Buzzard– perseverance!

About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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5 Responses to Snow Bunting in Sheffield

  1. Hi Martin, This bird has limited white in the wing and pointed tail tips but is still looks like a male to me. As for race, it looks a pale bird but I think this is tricky. I’m going for it being a first winter male of the race nivalis.

    Cheers Stewart.

  2. Marc says:

    I’ve been watching the local Snow Bunting flock for the last few weeks now and trying to age, sex and assign them to race. I’m no ringer and no expert, but have enjoyed trying to put together the jigsaw. I may be totoally wrong, but for the Sheffield bird I’m going for adult female ‘insulae’. Here’s how I’ve come to my conclusion:-

    Regarding age, although quite tricky to see in the video, the tail feathers especially in video 2 do seem rather pointed which would suggest a 1st winter bird, however I think this could be down to them being wet. In video 1 (for example at 0.35sec) they seem pretty broad and more adult like. The tertials seem evenly patterened chesnut too, this would also suggest an adult bird.
    With regard to sex, the primary coverts look dark especially on the slightly spread wing at 0.47 sec on the 2nd video, indicating a female bird.
    Looking at race, I don’t think the bird is frosty enough in the mantle for ‘nivalis’, nor does it appear to have any white in the rump. I’ve also tried to count the primaries which should show that the 9th primary is less less than 40% white in ‘insulae’. I think that this can just about be done in various places on the video (e.g. 0.09 sec on video 1).

    Our local Snow Buntings were recently trapped and colour ringed and it was interesting to speak to the ringers regarding the process of assigning them to race, sexing and ageing. Our birds turned out to all be ‘insulae’ and it was pleasing to have already come to that conclusion over the previous weeks, before seeing them in the hand.
    Interestingly, I recently received an email from a ringer stating that out of a staggering 23121 Snow Buntings ringed in Great Britain over the years, only a meagre 282 have been deemed to have been of the race ‘nivalis’. Taking that all the others that were caught were thought to be ‘insluae’, that’s only 1.2% being of the nominate race!

  3. Andyd says:

    I’ll take a punt at nivalis/adult/female, without any degree of confidence.

  4. Jim Welford says:

    Eagerly awaiting your verdict as there is a similar bird at Soil Hill among a number of insulae;

  5. Pingback: Sheffield Snow Bunting again | Birding Frontiers

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