Seems ridiculous to say but both Cretzschmar’s and Ortolan Buntings can in the space of a few hours, become backcloth birds in southern Israel in spring. Just a walk in the small urban parks produces flock of both species, sometimes 40-60 birds feeding together. Yes, it is ridiculous! Both of these photos were taken just last month in Eilat.
Adult males Cretzschmar’s are gorgeous and not difficult to identify, often with extra orange colour in the lores which Ortolans Bunting don’t show- as in the male below.
First winter and females Cretzschmar’s are a whole other ballgame, which is why this bird, photographed in Belgium 2 days ago is fascinating! Follow the interesting discussion here. Great chance to learn and be circumspect towards of any UK ‘Ortolan’s’ this next week…
Seeing young Ortolan’s and Cretzschmar’s Buntings in the past I have often thought some Cretzschmar’s to be a real challenge and could so easily be overlooked in NW Europe. I think young Ortolans can often have a white eye ring. So boils down to subtle plumage tones and (one again) most importantly distinctive call.