Thursday 29 October 2015

Four Firsts in One Day

Papa Westray 

I was invited to go on a chartered flight to Papa Westray in Orkney on Tuesday 27th October to see the 1st winter male Chestnut Bunting .

Now the title of this blog is " Four firsts in one day " , well i have never done a chartered flight before and i have never been to Papa Westray before so they are two of my four firsts in one day , (clear as mud i know

The flight took approx 2 and half hours in a small six seater plane including the pilot !!!!

Coming into land , Colin the pilot looking cool. 

We landed safely and were met at the airport by a local birder who took us down to where the Chestnut Bunting has been residing , we walked down the track from Holland farm to the gate at the bottom and the 1st winter male Chestnut Bunting was feeding in the grass quite happily , this is the 1st one of these birds i have ever seen which makes up my 3rd first of the day !!!

1st winter male Chestnut Bunting.

A really smart looking bird indeed , lovely chestnut coloured rump & undertail coverts , yellowish underparts and bold streaking on flanks , chestnut coverts , superb facial markings , pinkish legs and feet were all seen.

Chestnut crown & ear coverts.

Short tail with chestnut rump & wing coverts.

Superb facial markings.

There have been approx 8 previous sightings of this species in the UK but none have so far made it onto the British list , however this bird has a great chance of making it due to the time of year and age of the bird , there have been at least 9 Western Palearctic records with dates spanning from September 25th to November 12th with 6 October records in this period including one in France in October last year.

Chestnut Bunting.

There are a alot of birders saying it's tame and quite approachable which has caused some to think it's perhaps not wild ,  however i don't see this as a negative in it's origin as i have been just as close to many Bunting species such as Lapland , Rustic and Little Bunting , plus i have also been very close indeed to many Snow Buntings over the years .

Here are a small selection where i have had to take a few steps back as the birds were so tame .

Snow Bunting 

Lapland Bunting in Kent.

Little Bunting on Shetland.

If this bird is accepted as a wild bird (fingers crossed) it would be the first accepted record for Britain (making my four 1st's in one day) , but i will leave that up to the more qualified experts to argue and debate. 

1st winter male Chestnut Bunting.

The flight home.

A really great day out and a wonderful experience .


  1. The tamest wild birds I come across are goldcrests! I've had one happily feeding 8 inches from my face.

    1. Great little birds Simon , that must of been a great experience .


Thanks for taking the time to add a comment on my blog.