Is the bird I saw in Kent some kind of bunting?
QI wonder whether you can identify a bird I saw last September in Kent, in the Daleacres area? My first thought was some kind of bunting (Cirl?) but I am stumped. They were in the company of Yellowhammers and were sitting at the top of bushes on the boundary of our camp site. I thought the way the bird held its wings low down on its side might help. Marilyn Dewar
AThey’re Reed Buntings. In winter and immature plumages, they can be very confusing birds, without the highly distinctive black head and bib, and white collar, of the breeding male. One of them appears to have a very plain, unmarked head, and a very grey rump, which might be suggestive of a younger bird. There’s at least a hint of a bib on all of them, which helps make the identification. They’re not especially sociable, and outside of the breeding season can be pretty unobtrusive, so maybe this was an extended family group on the point of dispersing for the winter. Yellowhammers are, of course, close relatives, so it’s not that surprising to see the two together. Although Reed Buntings’ distribution is patchy, and they prefer reedbeds and similar wetland sites, they are also often found in farmland and drier areas.