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

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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 15:18   #1
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RBA Icon Eastern Stonechat sp in Norfolk - Breaking news from RBA (3.03pm 19 Oct)

Breaking news from Rare Bird Alert: Eastern Stonechat sp in Norfolk.

BBRC and IRBC stats from RBA's Previous Records Online:

There are 397 accepted records of Eastern Stonechat sp in Britain and 9 in Ireland.
The most recent published record for Norfolk was in 2016

RBA's Previous Records (new) has all the records and a wealth of stats and analysis for this and other rarities recorded in Britain and Ireland


Click for full details of this sighting and the rest of today's birdnews on the RBA website

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Click here to see the location on the Free Rare Bird Map

Click here for information about Eastern Stonechat sp in the Opus. (Please feel free to contribute to this page)
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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 16:56   #2
Eddie Urbanski
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From how far east?
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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 17:05   #3
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Yarmouth?
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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 21:41   #4
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Reported as looking good for a potential Stejneger's

https://twitter.com/CleyBirds/status...938212865?s=19
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Last edited by Phil Andrews : Friday 19th October 2018 at 22:24.
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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 21:43   #5
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Steve has posted some nice images now http://www.cleybirds.com/
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Old Friday 19th October 2018, 22:32   #6
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The poo collectors will be out in force tomorrow.
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Old Saturday 20th October 2018, 10:35   #7
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Not that familiar with Stejneger's Stonechat. For those who are, why is or isn't this one ? The images available are excellent.
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Old Saturday 20th October 2018, 11:35   #8
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Try to get a copy of the late Martin Garner's excellent Birding Frontiers which covered the groundbreaking identification of eastern stonechats. Steve Gantlett's excellent series of photos go a long way to identifying the possibility of this bird being a migrant Eastern Stonechat.
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Old Saturday 20th October 2018, 20:43   #9
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How did the pop scrapers get on today? Is this one going to be confirmed to BBRC standards? Or have we reached the stage where they can be accepted on visuals only?
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Old Saturday 20th October 2018, 20:58   #10
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How did the pop scrapers get on today? Is this one going to be confirmed to BBRC standards? Or have we reached the stage where they can be accepted on visuals only?
Some of the tweets today suggested it was being pushed around although I suspect from over-zealous birders rather than crapcatchers
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Old Saturday 20th October 2018, 21:13   #11
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If the “poo” mtdna count is less than the arbitrary 3%....would that make it just a regular Common Stonechat, or if it’s greater....would that constitute a full species, accepting that Great and Pomarine Skua have the same mtdna?

Just wondering....
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 00:59   #12
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If the “poo” mtdna count is less than the arbitrary 3%....would that make it just a regular Common Stonechat, or if it’s greater....would that constitute a full species, accepting that Great and Pomarine Skua have the same mtdna?

Just wondering....
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.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 01:31   #13
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S. stejnegeri is genetically the most distinct stonechat - relationship is (stejnegeri) (((torquatus) (tectes)) ((maurus) ((rubicola)(dacotiae))))

See Zink et al. (2009) Taxonomic status and evolutionary history of the Saxicola torquata complex.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 08:12   #14
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Some of the tweets today suggested it was being pushed around although I suspect from over-zealous birders rather than crapcatchers
When I finally got to grips with this bird, yesterday a’noon, it was feeding in the reeds, way out in the middle of the grazing meadow.

Anyone who wished to get closer would’ve had to've kept a close eye on not just the chat, but the herd of moos with their attendant calves, all supervised by a rampant, noisome bull. They would had to have had far more b*lls than I - but, definitely not Mr Bull !

Stonechats are habitually flighty: at Salthouse, not condoning approaches within 2 or 3 fence posts - unless one is either lucky or unusually field-crafted. With a crowd of onlookers, this distance quickly becomes extended.

The previous day, I’d witnessed, from the north side of the meadow, toggers in the sprouting crops in the field above Meadow Lane. This cannot help but maintain the reputation of twitchers. Then we wonder why farmers and even whole estates withhold access and news is ‘late’ - or non-existent.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 09:11   #15
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When I finally got to grips with this bird, yesterday a’noon, it was feeding in the reeds, way out in the middle of the grazing meadow.

Anyone who wished to get closer would’ve had to've kept a close eye on not just the chat, but the herd of moos with their attendant calves, all supervised by a rampant, noisome bull. They would had to have had far more b*lls than I - but, definitely not Mr Bull !

Stonechats are habitually flighty: at Salthouse, not condoning approaches within 2 or 3 fence posts - unless one is either lucky or unusually field-crafted. With a crowd of onlookers, this distance quickly becomes extended.

The previous day, I’d witnessed, from the north side of the meadow, toggers in the sprouting crops in the field above Meadow Lane. This cannot help but maintain the reputation of twitchers. Then we wonder why farmers and even whole estates withhold access and news is ‘late’ - or non-existent.
Yet another example of why bird-finders should think long and hard about the potential consequences of releasing news of any rarity they’re fortunate enough to find, bearing in mind the potential disturbance to the bird, other species and damage to good relations built up over time with landowners because of the actions of some clueless/selfish twitchers/photographers.

I really enjoy the odd twitch but am embarrassed beyond words by some of the behaviour I’ve witnessed and read about.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 11:52   #16
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Understandable reactions to what once again seems to be the thoughtless actions of a small minority. But once again it is worth reiterating that the vast majority of twitches go without a hitch, and the vast majority of people attending twitches, even where some bad behaviour is reported, are well behaved and respectful of the bird, crops, landowners, local residents etc.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 12:23   #17
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Understandable reactions to what once again seems to be the thoughtless actions of a small minority. But once again it is worth reiterating that the vast majority of twitches go without a hitch, and the vast majority of people attending twitches, even where some bad behaviour is reported, are well behaved and respectful of the bird, crops, landowners, local residents etc.
Julian

Andrew's reaction to being on Scilly in 1985 was to be depressed by the crowds. I suspect that it would be difficult for him to have anything but a negative reaction to any twitching experience. It is increasingly puzzling why he seems to spend any time on a Rare Bird Information forum but he seems to be a self-appointed evangelist for suppression.

Yes, it is challenging particularly at some sites and you know how challenging some areas of my patch have become but having enjoyed birds found by others, I will continue to reciprocate.

All the best
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 13:44   #18
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It seems that aversion to crowds of people, and the welfare of the target bird and other aspects are being mixed up here. Thinking about the last twitch I went on (not surprisingly the Grey Catbird), it is true there was some understandably noise from the crowd, but at no time did I think the Catbird's behaviour was altered by this. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but fieldcraft (I think) is partly understanding that animals have an awareness zone that is partly formed by their evolutionary history/instincts and partly formed by their own experience. Passerines often have a relatively small awareness zone, which is probably centred around being able escape hawks etc. so a mumbling group of aging and slow moving birders isn't going to stress them out to much, as long as we are not standing in the areas where the bird wants to go for feeding, roosting purposes, etc.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 14:52   #19
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Andrew,

You're a real hypocrite aren't you.

You admit you have twitched birds that other people have found and yet you openly encourage the suppression of birds and state you'd suppress any birds you find.


Maybe you believe that because you may have stopped twitching everyone else should.

I suggest you stick to your local patch where you can suppress to your hearts content and stay away from birds other people find elsewhere thus avoiding all those evil twitchers..or maybe you can charge around the country and have a moan at all those dog-walkers,bike scramblers and ramblers that disturb birds.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 15:22   #20
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Julian

Andrew's reaction to being on Scilly in 1985 was to be depressed by the crowds. I suspect that it would be difficult for him to have anything but a negative reaction to any twitching experience. It is increasingly puzzling why he seems to spend any time on a Rare Bird Information forum but he seems to be a self-appointed evangelist for suppression.

Yes, it is challenging particularly at some sites and you know how challenging some areas of my patch have become but having enjoyed birds found by others, I will continue to reciprocate.

All the best
Julian/Stevie et al

We’ve never met but just to set a few things straight. I’m not in any way saying all birds should be suppressed nor that all twitching is bad - indeed I’ve enjoyed a fair bit over the years and I surely will in the future! My concerns relate to the old ‘welfare of the bird comes first’ line as written in the old Birdwatchers’ Code of Conduct.

I have many good birding friends who chase after rarities from time to time, some obsessively. I may not understand their relentless need, commitment and drive to list and collect the full pack of ‘rare birds cards’ so to speak, but I do share their love of seeing new birds, gaining that invaluable first-hand knowledge regarding identification etc that comes from personal experience, not to mention the fun/craic of travelling to some, er, exotic location with a bunch of birding reprobates. I’m sure they don’t understand how excited I might get about working a patch, vismigging and (especially) finding a new species (no matter how common) at one of the sites I’ve worked over the years either. I’m not implying in any shape or form that one way of birding is purer than the other as there are of course, many birders who do both. Each to their own.

I spend time and contribute to this forum because of my keen interest in rare bird identification, vagrancy etc and, especially to up the chances of finding them myself! I may not have seen my blood pressure rocket when clapping eyes on a self-found Red-flanked Bluetail (yet?) but sure like to keep my finger on the pulse by knowing where/when they’re turning up, and know many others on BF with the same attitude. If you don’t want to read my input just scroll on by. Just because I’m not a massive lister doesn’t mean my views and comments are not relevant to what I witness in the rare bird scene both from afar and personally, especially when it comes to stupid behaviour by our fellow rarity enthusiasts.

So my issue is not in any way anything about twitching/listing in itself, more the sheer selfishness and irresponsibility I’ve witnessed at many twitches. I was chatting to Ken Croft the other day who’d just driven back from Scilly via dipping the Grey Catbird in Cornwall. We were catching up and reminiscing about Scilly, Holyhead sightings, birders, rares and of course the first Catbird as he was fortunate enough to find it!

I feel bittersweet about this magic bird, having been part of an organised flush to encourage it to show itself to the crowd (that I now personally regret). This followed consultation and encouragement from others on site including senior RSPB Cymru staff. I was utterly devastated at a return visit to see the whole acre of gorse in the compound trampled completely FLAT (like a herd of elephants had passed though!) by people desperate to see the Cat.

This was an extreme example but while discussing the circumstances I mentioned to Ken my decision to refrain from spreading news of anything that might be adversely affected by overzealous twitchers/photographers in future and he was completely understanding. I don’t need his or anyone else’s support or approval, but it was good to hear if from such a legendary bird-finder, occasional twitcher and well respected elder of Welsh/UK ornithology.

I’ve been fortunate enough to discover a few nice birds over the years and have always put news out when I can, including while undertaking stints as a reserve warden. I’ll continue to do so when it is appropriate to the site but will remain circumspect with others. I don’t get off on suppressing birds for no valid reason whatsoever, never have and never will.

It’s great to share birds with people, especially when I occasionally travel to see those found by others, but sadly I feel that a few bad apples have ruined it for the whole basket and until people speak out to educate/challenge the few people with bad fieldcraft/idiots around then things will not improve.

Good Birding

Andrew

Last edited by Andrew Clarke : Sunday 21st October 2018 at 17:21.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 16:31   #21
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Agree totally with Andrew's stance.

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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 16:59   #22
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I have to say that I agree mostly with Andrew, too.

I was recently at a place near me looking for a LeConte's Sparrow with others, including a great friend of mine. There were a few other birders present, too, and I got very excited when my lifer Least Bittern flew into the grasses. However, no-one else got on it. We then tried an "organized flush", so to speak, although the bird never did reappear. I didn't have a big problem with this, since Least Bittern doesn't breed at the location and the habitat wasn't badly trampled. However, I was so disappointed, as was my friend, when other birders mentioned coming back with a rope to drag across the grass. I am aware of this as a tactic for Yellow Rail surveys, but I don't support its regular use. My friend told me that after one such rope-dragging he found a Palm Warbler with a broken wing and has since stopped doing it.

Back to the LeConte's Sparrow, it actually showed much better when birders sat tight and gave it time. When it was flushed, it became highly uncooperative and gave awful views.

I report rarities when I see them, except if it's a rare breeder, an owl, or maybe a rare species in a small and vulnerable patch of habitat.

I will also say that I don't get much joy from chasing/twitching, but understand that many do. I did go successfully for Pennsylvania's first Rock Wren recently, and that was a wonderful experience. Almost no "bad apples", the bird showed wonderfully, and great company was enjoyed.
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:01   #23
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It is interesting to contrast the 2001 Anglesey Catbird - seventeen years ago - with this year's Land's End bird. I suspect the latter is more accurate evidence of modern twitching (though modern trends in photography add complications). Some people expect the Saturday of the Golden-winged Warbler to be repeated despite the intervening thirty years.

I've only had a Kentish Plover to put out this year but hoping the next one would be more significant.

Some will always look for a reason.

All the best
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:06   #24
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Silly me, I thought the thread was about an Eastern Stonechat, not on suppression, twitching and the hypocrisy of some that are both!
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Old Sunday 21st October 2018, 17:27   #25
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It is interesting to contrast the 2001 Anglesey Catbird - seventeen years ago - with this year's Land's End bird. I suspect the latter is more accurate evidence of modern twitching (though modern trends in photography add complications). Some people expect the Saturday of the Golden-winged Warbler to be repeated despite the intervening thirty years.

I've only had a Kentish Plover to put out this year but hoping the next one would be more significant.

Some will always look for a reason.

All the best
Good points Paul. And also compare the fantastic Black Lark twitch - where everyone behaved immaculately and enjoyed fantastic views - with the original Catbird debacle.

All the best

Andrew
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