is it the same?
by Nils, Martin and Diederik Kok
Above: ‘Siberian Stonechat’, Texel, Netherlands, October 2012 by Diederik Kok. This bird appears very similar to or same as confirmed ‘Stejneger’s Stonechat’ at Portland Bill, UK seen the day after the Texel bird was last seen.
Stejneger’s Stonechat at Portland (left by Martin Cade) compared with Texel Stonechat on right by Diederik Kok.
We have been having a lively discussion on ‘Siberian Stonechats’, following this maurus type on Shetland and this variegatus on Vleiland. We were knocked out with the news that a bird at Portland Bill, Dorset in late October was a Stejneger’s Stonechat, taxon ‘stejnegeri’ (confirmed by DNA). A similarly dark ‘Siberian Stonechat’ on Texel, Netherlands earlier on October was quickly recalled. We then asked the question:
“Could this be the same bird?”
It seems to all our eyes the answer may well be YES!
The bird was found by Diederik who writes:
When I found this bird on Oct 8, I realized it had to be a Siberian Stonechat, albeit a relatively dark one. Especially its upperparts were darker than usual for typical maurus, rump was strong orange buff rather than pale buff and the lack of supercilium was also a bit strange. During its (long) stay till Oct 23 this ‘maurus’ was seen by many birders, especially during the Dutch Birding weekend. During this time, I followed the topic on the Shetland Siberian Stonechat on Birding Frontiers with interest – especially the question raised regarding the separation stejnegeri as I knew very little about how to identify this taxon. The news of the Portland stejnegeri and its DNA analysis is of course very interesting! And extra interesting because the Texel bird looks so similar to the Portland bird. What a striking resemblance, as also noted by Tom van der Have, Jan Hein van Steenis and others on the Dutch Birding website. Credits to Nils for the initial photo analysis showing that it looks to be the very same individual?…. It surely makes one wonder…
Stejneger’s Stonechat at Portland (left by Martin Cade) compared with Texel Stonechat on right by Ipe Weeber.
Texel bird: 8th -23rd October
After my first observation on Oct 8, it was last seen with certainty at Oct 23 at de Robbernjager, N Texel (and also photographed at that date): a surprisingly long stay! No reports for Oct 24.
Interestingly, on Oct 25 a ‘Siberian Stonechat’ was reported at a very nearby location (de Tuintjes, N Texel). For the Oct 25 observation the short description available might suggest another individual but no photos of this observation are available: so hard to tell whether the Robbenjager or another individual was involved.
Portland bird: 24th -26th October
Discovered Oct 24, present till Oct 26.
Thanks especially to Martin Cade and Jos van den Berg