Archives for: September 2006



Permalink 08:24:03, Categories: Passerines  

First winter/female Ortolan Buntings Emberiza hortulana or something else?

I have edited this post to include a response from Raffael Aye

Pictures 1 & 2 have now be identified as being of different birds - this was pointed out by Raffael we have checked the photo sequence and Raffael is correct. I have included his comments below as the most interesting comments recieved thus far.

Hi Howard,

very interesting pictures of Ortolan (or similar) Buntings you have there!

As to the identification: separation of Ortolan and Cretzschmar's, based on slight colour differences, is very hard on a computer screen. I don't dare to do that really. Grey-headed and Ortolan should be feasible.

For the first two photographs: are you sure they show the same bird? It looks like two different birds to me. Pic1 shows a conspicuous, almost white ear-spot and clearly set-off narrow streaks on the lower breast sides – both these characters are absent on Pic 2. Therefore I think they must be two different individuals. The differences might suggest that Pic1 is a 1st winter (stronger streaking, slightly used pale fringes on wing coverts) while Pic2 might be rather adult (buff rather than whitish fringes to Medium coverts, moreover very fresh; reduced streaking).


Both birds have the typical Emberiza-pattern on the tertials and coarse streaking on the mantle. They are therefore not likely to be Grey-headed Buntings, but rather Ortolan Bs. I am not completely sure for Pic 2, though. Do Grey-headed Bs with Emberiza pattern occur? Better views of its bill, its breast, its marginal coverts and its mantle (the scapulars look poorly marked and somewhat more rufous) would be interesting...

The slight yellowish tinge on the plumage especially on the head on Pic1 suggests they aren't Cretzschmar's either, but Ortolans. Anyway Cretzschmar's must be a rare bird in Bahrain, I guess.

Surprisingly, the bill looks all pale without a darker culmen on both photographs (at least on Pic2). On Pic 2 the culmen also looks very straight. Theoretically, this would be characteristic of Grey-headed Bunting. But despite the bill, I think they are Ortolan Bs (streaking, tertials, yellowish tinge).

Picture three and four (same Bird)
Having spoken of this typical Emberiza pattern on the tertials: where is it on Pics 3 and 4? It's missing! The tertials look very similar to what they would be on a Grey-headed Bunting. However, I have seen Ortolan Buntings in Europe on two occasions with such tertial pattern, the streaking on the mantle and (although hardly visible) on the upper breast are very coarse and the bill has got a dark and clearly convex culmen. I agree it is an Ortolan Bunting (although the tertial pattern is remarkable!).

Have other people commented? I'd be interested to know what other people think about these buntings...

best regards, and please continue posting such interesting photographs!



Permalink 11:10:08, Categories: Passerines  

Short-toed larks

Obviously different but hanging out together with other Larks would like to recieve any comments as to possible Ssp classification.

Short-Toed Lark
and this one
Short-Toed Lark

For comparative purposes I have placed here two pictures recieved from Norman Vanswelm taken at Dunkirk on the 21st September by Julien Boulanger



Tick the Pipit

Permalink 10:26:57, Categories: Passerines  

A rather interesting pipit besides the tick on the head, note the obvious loral and eye strip through the prominent eye-ring, the ill defined almost non existent supercillium, the pronounced pointed tooth to the dark centres on medium coverts. First winter Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis was my choice but it has been concluded that this is in fact a Red-throated Pipit Anthus cervinus

The bird was photographed by Juhani Kyyrö at my bequest


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