photo by the bird’s finder, Diederik Kok, Texel, 8 Oct 2012
The birds for me in 2012 were without doubt the stonechats. Especially the Stejneger’s Stonechat, which ID was proven at Portland Bill by DNA. It was indeed the same bird first seen on Texel for about two weeks (now overwhelming evidence that both are the same individual!); the eye-opener of the year for me! I have always (now shamefully) ignored the taxon as a possible vagrant for the WP. Both because it was often said impossible to separate form maurus and maybe a too unlikely to reach the WP, assuming that the breeding range was only in the far east of Siberia. Both seemed to be wrong… The breeding range of this long-distant migrant is assumed to reach up to Central Siberia about 100 dgr E, well within the limits of many of our well known Siberian vagrants. But breeding further east has proved to be no reason not turning up over here given the ultra vagrants last autumn… Although work in process and already highlighted by others, the field ID of Stejneger’s is probably possible in at least first winter birds, an idea further fuelled from museum research and photo-studies. Also the fact that both birds were found by my greatest birding friends added to the excitement.
On at least one day in October, presumable 4-5 stonechat taxa were present in the Netherlands within less than 20 km from each other! Caspian on Vlieland [variegatus will also change it’s taxonomic name and become hemprichii according to new paper- more soon on that], Stejneger’s on Texel, a classic looking peachy pale Siberian maurus-type on Texel, and very likely both Common nominate torquatus and ‘hibernans’ hanging around too during that time…, I guess an unique event!
Merry Christmas to you all!