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Eastern Stonechat sp in Norfolk - Breaking news from RBA (3.03pm 19 Oct)

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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:29   #26
Andrew Clarke
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Originally Posted by PYRTLE View Post
Silly me, I thought the thread was about an Eastern Stonechat, not on suppression, twitching and the hypocrisy of some that are both!
Must be a first - a BF thread that veers off on a tangent!
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:29   #27
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Er, you may need to do a bit more reading up, Ken. There is no such thing as an arbitrary DNA divergence threshold that applies across all taxa, be it 3% or any other figure. Divergence or otherwise of skuas' mtDNA profiles is irrelevant to any other taxa.

The Norfolk bird has black underwing coverts, so Common/European Stonechat (rubicola group) is out of the frame on that phenotypic feature alone, and it is maura or stejnegeri. If its mtDNA profile could be determined, it could presumably be compared against whatever known sequences there are in databases. Nuclear DNA would be better, but much harder to obtain, so generally fewer sequences are available for comparison - no idea what the situation is with stonechats.
Err....Julian, you must forgive a simple “Backwoods Boy” for perhaps trying to understand the definition of “speciation” and in doing so (perhaps not unlike many people on this forum?) When on occasion the goal posts are moved for splitting, then at a later point in time are “lumped”. Are you inferring that other super species eg. Chiff Chaff and Lesser Whitethroat which like Stonechat across the cline morph into different forms, would warrant differing mtdna divergence thresholds? I suppose I’m guilty of trying to rationalise speciation (probably not possible?) especially with those 5” jobbies that might not be too distantly unrelated.

Away from home at present thus don’t have access to my photo database. Regarding the “relevance” of black axillaries to the underwing, allowing for the vagaries of digital imagery, I have an image of S.torquata showing just that feature out of a grey white underwing unlike SG’s underwing shot showing black axillaries out of a dark grey underwing. Point being that features like rump and underwing pattern might not in themselves be pivotal with the Stonechat group?

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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 19:14   #28
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Notwithstanding suppression, naughty twtchers and lack of poo-level proof so far, it does seem to tick the boxes from the photos?
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 23:58   #29
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Just looking through the numerous images of this bird on Twitter (including some video) the variation is remarkable; the old five bird theory

Very few are actually representative of how it looks in the field.

Steve Gantlett's images are a pretty good match though http://www.cleybirds.com/
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 01:00   #30
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Err....Julian, you must forgive a simple “Backwoods Boy” for perhaps trying to understand the definition of “speciation” and in doing so (perhaps not unlike many people on this forum?) When on occasion the goal posts are moved for splitting, then at a later point in time are “lumped”. Are you inferring that other super species eg. Chiff Chaff and Lesser Whitethroat which like Stonechat across the cline morph into different forms, would warrant differing mtdna divergence thresholds? I suppose I’m guilty of trying to rationalise speciation (probably not possible?) especially with those 5” jobbies that might not be too distantly unrelated.

Away from home at present thus don’t have access to my photo database. Regarding the “relevance” of black axillaries to the underwing, allowing for the vagaries of digital imagery, I have an image of S.torquata showing just that feature out of a grey white underwing unlike SG’s underwing shot showing black axillaries out of a dark grey underwing. Point being that features like rump and underwing pattern might not in themselves be pivotal with the Stonechat group?

Cheers
Interesting observation on Stonechat underwings, Ken. I thought that black underwing coverts (not axillaries) were diagnostic of the 'Siberian Stonechat' (sensu lato) complex. If not, then I too may have to do some more reading.

On the primary point, though, yes that is exactly what I am saying. Each case has to treated on its merits in terms of both mtDNA and nuclear DNA (if possible) divergence, and morphological and other characters also have to be considered. There is no 'magic bullet', no threshold or formula which could be applied across the board to give a simple answer to the question 'split or lump?'
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 18:05   #31
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A faecal sample has now been collected from this Stonechat per Twitter so presumably there will be a definitive identification.

(If it comes back as Stejneger's, I will claim that it was identical to the Donna Nook bird - https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S32655617 - but if it comes back as anything else, I will claim that it looked different. I will then swear that black is white and avoid zebra crossings.)

All the best
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 18:54   #32
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A faecal sample has now been collected from this Stonechat per Twitter so presumably there will be a definitive identification.

(If it comes back as Stejneger's, I will claim that it was identical to the Donna Nook bird - https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S32655617 - but if it comes back as anything else, I will claim that it looked different. I will then swear that black is white and avoid zebra crossings.)

All the best
Why don't you just go and look at it?
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 18:56   #33
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Earlier, a mate of mine who’s in Norfolk, but without his birding gear, texted me for info on this bird. I sent back the latest report, but he then decided there was no point in going. I still sent him this advice:

“I was going to warn you that to tick this bird you'll need to collect a pooh sample or feather yourself and analyse it using your own personal DNA kit.”
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 19:23   #34
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A faecal sample has now been collected from this Stonechat per Twitter so presumably there will be a definitive identification.
https://twitter.com/MSMurphy300/stat...830101510?s=19
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 19:26   #35
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Why don't you just go and look at it?
Precisely what I wish I hadn't bothered to do with the Dunge one that had been "confirmed by DNA" ironically
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Old Monday 22nd October 2018, 19:47   #36
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Why don't you just go and look at it?
I probably will if it sticks as I can't remember the last time I went to Norfolk but it really does feel alien when there is nothing that you can do in the field and when I have seen a bird at Donna Nook that is identical... https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S32655617

Difficult to justify such an 'experience' over work.

That said, I did enjoy the Scilly Caspian (Siberian) Stonechat - https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S27691889 - but I doubt many have seen a DNA'd maurus Siberian Stonechat and I doubt many would feel inclined to travel any distance just in case for the experience on DNA samples.

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Precisely what I wish I hadn't bothered to do with the Dunge one that had been "confirmed by DNA" ironically
Indeed - but at least you've seen a DNA'd European Stonechat - https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S33318588

I'm not really above such messing around though..... Picture of Eastern Black Redstart attached.

All the best

Paul
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 08:08   #37
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We must applaud the courageous, nay heroic, efforts of this intrepid student from the University of the East Angles. He braved, at great danger to himself, the close (down to 400+m) attentions of an amorous, rampaging bull in his determination to advance the cause of science. The DfE should be inordinately proud of this novel use of their STEM Strategy. He put up with no sh*t (carefully avoiding cross-contamination) and has, by his stalking (or, rather, the removal thereof), become the founder-member of a new Department of Political Ecology – and a model poopil.

What could be on a par with this historic, ID-clinching (we hope) event ? Well, I had, prior to this, managed to tick said Chat on my patch. It had ventured the 200m or so north to Gramborough Hill, where it was happily feeding in the main brambles with male & female Stonechats of the indigenous race. As more people arrived, it flew a little way east along the fence, and then back south, to its usual perches near Meadow Lane.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 08:54   #38
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What about welfare of the bird?

Didn’t even have chance to wipe its arse before some rampant, excreta-fixated, individual charged across at it.

What’s happened to fieldcraft amongst these young hot-head twitching maniacs desperate for a tick?
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 09:23   #39
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Are you party to the time span between deposit and recovery Nick? I would venture that birders of a wide spectrum of ages would be happy to convert a probable into a definitive one way or another.
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 09:27   #40
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Are you party to the time span between deposit and recovery Nick? I would venture that birders of a wide spectrum of ages would be happy to convert a probable into a definitive one way or another.
Phil I was only being an arse hole myself.

Fair play to the lad. Took someone with bigger balls than me 😁
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 09:34   #41
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Took someone with bigger balls than me
But, nowhere near as colossal as those pendant from that bull ! (I would imagine.)
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 10:00   #42
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Any news, negative or otherwise today?
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 10:06   #43
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Still present today between Salthouse and Kelling
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 10:33   #44
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Thanks Phil
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Old Tuesday 23rd October 2018, 10:56   #45
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When I started birding many years ago was told that if you couldnae identify bird on views you cant count .how times have changed relying on a pile of poo
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2018, 10:27   #46
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Are you party to the time span between deposit and recovery Nick? I would venture that birders of a wide spectrum of ages would be happy to convert a probable into a definitive one way or another.
Hi Phil, to answer your question the total time from poo being deposited to collection was perhaps 15 or 20 minutes- at around 5pm Monday 22nd Oct. A small number of us had spent an hour or so scoping the bird from Meadow Lane, and were eventually able to watch the bird leave a deposit in real time. (Can't believe I just wrote that sentence...) Thus we were able to identify which of the c6 deposits on the reed leaf directly beneath the bird's favourite perch had definitely been deposited by the bird in question.

We then waited until all in the scattered but small group of assembled birders had been consulted to make sure all were in agreement with a collection excursion, for the bird to move to a different spot, and not least for the rather impressive bull to be at a safe distance. One brave volunteer from within the group then nipped in (grass field, no crop) and surgically removed three reed leaves. Three deposits on the leaf (including the one we had seen being deposited) were clearly still fresh, the others were slightly older/drier but almost certainly from the same bird (which has been faithful to the same 2 or 3 patches of dyke reeds from which it makes sallies to catch insects. It was still working those same patches as I left at 1730 hrs.)

Hence we can be sure that the sample to be sent to Dr. Collinson was from the stonechat of interest, and that it was fresh. Hopefully DNA will be extractable, will prove to be from S.stejnegeri, and thus we'll glean a tiny new bit of vagrancy data (and a UK tick) as a result...

BTW for those thinking of going I had spent two hours from dawn until 0850 searching for the bird on Monday with no sign...it does not seem to be a particularly early riser, (though on Monday a cold Northwesterly early on probably didn't help.)
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2018, 11:21   #47
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the rather impressive bull to be at a safe distance.
I hasten to point out that, at no time, was there any threat to the health or welfare of the bull.

The “brave volunteer” is in a settled relationship and has no evinced no inclinations in the direction of bovines, save for the ingestion and use of dairy products.
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2018, 12:23   #48
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I was rather surprised with previous samples that Martin's advice was to make sure that the sample stayed dry...............

(And no I cannot believe that 'birding' has come to this.)

All the best
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2018, 12:51   #49
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Not that familiar with Stejneger's Stonechat. For those who are, why is or isn't this one ?
Plumage features/colour can sometimes vary between birds, though bare parts are perhaps less susceptible.

On the basis of what we know about plumage this bird would seem to tick the boxes of what we currently understand to be stejnegeri.

A structural feature sometimes offered for stejnegeri is a broad-based bill; the photos of this bird don't seem to show this feature? Anyone with more experiece that can say how reliable a feature this is on 1st W birds?

I'm hoping to see this bird Saturday so getting to grips with relevant features to test so to speak in the field. Thanks.

Mike
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Old Wednesday 24th October 2018, 12:59   #50
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Not that familiar with Stejneger's Stonechat. For those who are, why is or isn't this one ?
Different type of poo ...
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