Friday, 3 September 2010

Lap-aroscopy

It's the bird on everyone's agenda, it's this week's Yelkouan Shearwater, Lapland Bunting. Not just any old Lapland Bunting though, with some amazing numbers recorded on the Northern Isles and individuals turning up from Fair Isle to Filey, the suggestion from those that know about these things is that these individuals are of the race subcalcaratus which is the North American & Greenland form of Lapland Bunting.

It would appear that separation, even in the hand, is a little tricky, very little in the biometrics. However in my opinion once you take some of the circumstantial and behavioural evidence into account it's patently obvious this current wave of Lap Bunt is of North American origin. European Lapland Buntings come over and melt away into the background, happy to settle in a stubble field they are unobtrusive and this behaviour helps them blend in with the locals. These latest invaders have turned up in their hordes and are really showy, obvious and in your face, some might say typically American. Take the four that went through Newton early this morning without stopping, classic American behaviour, visit Edin-bro and then straight down south for a little shopping, theatre and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Obviously without ringing recoveries my theory will remain just that. Despite positioning myself and the kids due south of Newton this morning, as we walked the classic Craster to Dunstanburgh path, we managed to hit on virtually the only Lapland Bunting free stretch of coastline in Britain. Every overflying Linnet was scrutinised for signs of Yank Lap potential but the peak of our combined bird finding abilities was a male White Wagtail about 500m south of the castle; subsequently flushed by two of my foam sword wielding offspring. Arnold's Reserve at Craster and the old quarry car park was awash with calling Chiffchaff but the kids were more interested in the profusion of unpicked Blackberries, a large quantity of which are now residing in our kitchen.

The kids asleep I'm left to ponder what we might try not seeing tomorrow.

3 comments:

Stewart said...

Alan why Yank Laps when the wind has been east or south east for neigh on a week? Surely the nearctic race would be on the back of westerly drift? I reckon scandy laps meself along with all those Barreds and Wrynecks...

alan tilmouth said...

This run of exceptionally early Laps started on 24th, most of the early records were west coast (Cornwall/Bridges of Ross/Conwy. There was high pressure providing good departure conditions over Greenland and Iceland has had record numbers (120+ in one flock). It would be unlikely that these were of European origin given the westerly airflow at that time.

Stewart said...

Ah I see. Well if its good enough for McGeehan and Garner....