Sunday, April 04, 2010

An overlooked migrant...

Before I start my usual stuff have a look at this. No Great White Egrets, Cranes or Harriers for me, oh no. My migrants are straight off the Christmas card.

This morning along the rocky beach at Howick Burn mouth there were at least two of these chaps...

Continental Robins. Erithacus rubecula rubecula

Very blue grey above, lacking the brownish olive tones we are more familiar with. These were more bluethroat-coloured, very cold looking. 

From the front, the breast is paler, more golden with yellowish flecks. Not as ruddy red as our birds. The belly is whiter as are the flanks. The area behind the eye is very blue grey extending to the nape.

Whilst rubecula is nigh on impossible to seperate from British melophilus most of the time, in times when there has been a good fall of Robins, mixed with more usual foreign stuff , like Black Redstarts, some birds are very distinctive in the field. There were at least 5 Robins in a 50 yard stretch this morning and these two could be easily picked out even in flight.

According to 'The Handbook' and 'Bannerman' even the habitat and behaviour was correct today, with birds hiding in cavernous overhangs then flitting out onto the rocks to feed briefly. You wouldn't find these on your spade! 'BWP' and 'Svensson' state that the races are clinal and slight, but if given a good sample, the scandinavian visitors can be picked out... 

Next time you find yourself knee deep in Robins on the east coast, give them a good look...

Anyway where was I?

The day was bright most of the time with odd cloudy and showery spells.

Of the rest of the morning, my first Wheatear, a male, avoided photography by only showing for 10 seconds before flying back to the Sahel, a nice male Blackcap was sunning with two Chiffchaffs in the dene, 25 Whooper Swans flew N, while a lone Canada Goose swam south at sea.

Moth statistics for last night -

March Moth 1
Pale Brindled Beauty 1
Common Quaker 12
Clouded Drab 1
Hebrew Character 17
Chestnut 1

33 moths of 6 species.

OFFH List 111


Alan Tilmouth said...

Talking to Ian Kerr earlier in the week he had quite a 'fall' of continental Robins on Holy Island along with the plague of Black Reds.

Anonymous said...

An interesting post Stewart.
Never mind being knee deep in Robins. Being by the East coast would do.

The PBB is a late one. Just a thought, but did you check it for Brindled Beauty.

abbey meadows said...

There were four of what I believed were these Robins on the beech at Hauxley last week perched and feeding among the beeched branches on the shore.

Tom Tams said...

We only have ten records of Brindled Beauty for vc67 and none for vc68 as yet

Stewart said...

Dean - I hadn't thought of that, knowing the status of BB in Northumberland, but it looked like a bog standard PBB to me, pale phase and quite fresh looking.

TB - Is that you Tom? :)

Tom Tams said...

Yes Stew
Knocked up this blog donkeys ago but never used it, had to revive it to comment on your blog