A flock of three Ortolan Buntings!

Although the numbers of common migrants moving through the island have been a little bit higher in the last week or so, generally this autumn has been very poor- starting back in July, when unsettled weather conditions meant that we never really had a proper fall of warblers or migrants throughout the whole of July and August. Things have improved in the last week, with light northerly winds last week turning into fresh south-easterlies in the last few days- just in time for me to leave the island and head down to uni in Falmouth!!

Still, I managed to have a nice little find yesterday afternoon before my departure, in the form of (some!) Ortolan Buntings… I was walking down the mountainside towards Nant in the late afternoon, when a ‘glip- glip’ call took my attention. Scanning the oat field below me, I immediately picked up on a bunting coming in to land on a wire fence, and after short view my suspicion of Ortolan Bunting was confirmed! It was great to have a back-on view of this first summer individual, although trying to radio everyone else to let them know of this scarcity meant that I didn’t get a really good look at it.

After getting people aware of the bird, I tried as best I could to keep my eye on it, but a flighty flock of Linnets made this hard work. After five minutes, the bird took off, and separated away from the Linnets, heading towards the Abbey ruin. I suddenly became aware of a second bird tagging along with it, and it looked identical, apart from different colouration. They both landed on the ruin, and distant views didn’t allow much confirmation of my suspicion. But once a Steve joined me from the obs, we walked slowly up the track, and realised that there were indeed two birds!!

The next half hour was frustrating, with the birds becoming increasingly flighty, and not returning to the oat field too often. After twenty minutes, we began to suspect a THIRD bird, and looking back at our record shots of the individuals that had landed, we realised that there were indeed three- two first winters and an adult female!!

Who knows- perhaps we will have a small breeding population of mixed Emberizia buntings next!

Here is an assortment of images from yesterday…

I think the above images just picture two of the birds, but below is a shot by Steve that depicts the third- an adult female perhaps

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