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Maidstone, Kent, England, 5th Nov 2019 (1 Viewer)

ant-33

Active member
Hi,
I'm afraid I don't have any photos, but there was a bird on our seed-feeder on the morning of 5th November which I can't identify.

It was about the size of a great-tit, or perhaps marginally bigger. It had a peachy-coloured chest, and the back of its head was black and white striped long-ways. Its wings, folded, were a blue-grey. Its tail wasn't very long. It had a very long, thin beak, which it used to lance into the seed-feeder. It just flitted onto the feeder, stayed a couple of seconds, then went away again - it did this twice, and that's all I saw.

I've tried looking through all my UK bird books, but I simply can't find anything that looks like it. The closest I've come is the red-breasted nuthatch. The picture on page 454 of the Wild Guides Britain's Birds looks remarkably like what I saw. However, the book seems to indicate that's a rare vagrant, and if so I'm guessing it's unlikely to be what I saw.

The location is a small suburban back garden in Maidstone, Kent, England, and we have a fair few feeders out with a variety of contents.

I'd really appreciate any thoughts on what it might have been.
Many thanks in anticipation
Tony
 

KenM

Well-known member
If you’re familiar with the movement and structure of Nuthatch, and the bird in question was “the same” but with cosmetics as you have described, it does sound very promising. I would suggest keeping your feeder well stocked and if possible have a camera at the ready, if you see it again and manage a shot or two, you could become very popular with any local birders...and beyond. :t:
 

ant-33

Active member
If you’re familiar with the movement and structure of Nuthatch, and the bird in question was “the same” but with cosmetics as you have described, it does sound very promising. I would suggest keeping your feeder well stocked and if possible have a camera at the ready, if you see it again and manage a shot or two, you could become very popular with any local birders...and beyond. :t:

Many thanks for the reply. I have the camera ready to hand, and I'm hoping to see it again - I haven't seen it since yesterday morning, so I guess it's possible it was on its way through. My eyes are peeled :t:
Cheers, Tony
 

Earnest lad

Well-known member
It could have been a brambling in winter plumage apart from the bill not fitting but other than that Nuthatch might be it.
 
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ant-33

Active member
Considering your description of the back of the head, I am wondering if it could have been a brambling in winter plumage?

Thanks for your reply. This had a really very long, thin beak, so I don't think so.
T.

Edit: Yes, it was the beak that threw me with identifying it.
 
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ant-33

Active member
Behaviour and head pattern sound like Coal Tit to me ,size is difficult to judge unless bird with others.

Hi Paul, thanks for the reply. I wondered the same, but it's the beak that makes me think not - it was a really long, thin pointy beak, and the wings were more grey-blue. Other than that, it could have been.
Cheers, T.
 

Original PaulE

Well-known member
Hi Paul, thanks for the reply. I wondered the same, but it's the beak that makes me think not - it was a really long, thin pointy beak, and the wings were more grey-blue. Other than that, it could have been.
Cheers, T.
Maybe an aberration? have seen pics of Blue Tits with abnormal long or bent beaks could be something similar??
 

PYRTLE

Old Berkshire Boy
It was about the size of a great-tit, or perhaps marginally bigger. It had a peachy - coloured chest, and the back of its head was black and white striped long-ways.
Tony

Does this not rule out Blue, Great and Coal Tit? Bigger than Great Tit, so Coal and Blue should theoretically be ruled out. Yes, size perspective can be difficult but most observers can distinguish the overall bulk of the two smaller species quite readily. Have to take the observers initial gut feeling thoughts and description. Can only be a Nuthatch species for me.
 
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Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
If an aberrant anything, most likely an aberrant Nuthatch [Eurasian Nuthatch] with a more strongly marked head pattern than normal. Everything else fits Nuthatch perfectly :t:
 

ant-33

Active member
If an aberrant anything, most likely an aberrant Nuthatch [Eurasian Nuthatch] with a more strongly marked head pattern than normal. Everything else fits Nuthatch perfectly :t:

Thanks for the reply. It's beginning to look like the consensus that it may have been a nuthatch - and if it is, it's a first for us in the garden here. If it was a red-breasted nuthatch it sounds like I was really lucky to spot it. I wonder if it could have been a juvenile.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
I'm a bit of a rookie at this, so I confess I don't know. With the concept of aberrations introduced, I'm not sure what it rules out.
Yes, this can indeed become a bit ridiculous, one could suggest it is an aberrant just-about-anything, just more aberrant than the next thing along . . . so let's suggest it might've been an aberrant escaped Ostrich, abnormally small, abnormally short-necked, abnormally large-winged, abnormally slender-billed, and with abnormal colours and patterns . . . 3:) 3:) 3:)

Reality is that the vast majority of birds aren't aberrant, so the safest course to take is that it's a normal Eurasian Nuthatch, until any further evidence might prove otherwise :t:
 

ant-33

Active member
Yes, this can indeed become a bit ridiculous, one could suggest it is an aberrant just-about-anything, just more aberrant than the next thing along . . . so let's suggest it might've been an aberrant escaped Ostrich, abnormally small, abnormally short-necked, abnormally large-winged, abnormally slender-billed, and with abnormal colours and patterns . . . 3:) 3:) 3:)

Reality is that the vast majority of birds aren't aberrant, so the safest course to take is that it's a normal Eurasian Nuthatch, until any further evidence might prove otherwise :t:

It certainly had that look to it - the only thing that made me wonder about the red-breasted nuthatch is the blue-grey colour didn't extend up into the stripes on the head, and it was that little bit smaller than the usual nuthatches we see in the vicinity. Could it have been a juvenile Eurasian nuthatch with those differences?
Edit: I'm not 100% sure the blue-grey didn't extend into the head stripes.
Cheers, T.
 

KenM

Well-known member
I'm a bit of a rookie at this, so I confess I don't know. With the concept of aberrations introduced, I'm not sure what it rules out.

The head pattern you described does fit RBNuthatch rather well, if we start from the premiss that you are very familiar with Eurasian Nuthatch as I am, I’ve been watching the latter at point blank range (6’) almost on a daily basis over the last 30 odd years (generations of Nuthatches), and never once encountered an aberrant bird!

Most years I visit the US and not infrequently encounter RBNuthatch (although certainly not always), to my eye the head pattern always reminds me of a Cavalry officer’s “dress” trouser ie the white supercillium being quite stark and contrasty.

Well that’s my tuppence worth....let’s all hope it returns.

Cheers
 
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