17 December 2013

Lost(?) Snow Bunting in France

With a chill in the air, it only seems right that we've just received details of a very bizarre Snow Bunting movement... With the aid of some excellent photos, we were able to read the ring of VX35928, seen on 22nd November at Moosch, France, right on the French/Swiss/German border.

VX35928 in northeast France in November
Interestingly, this bird had been ringed by East Norfolk Ringing Group as a young male at Eccles on Sea, Norfolk, just six days previously! It is interesting to think where these East Anglian birds are coming from, and as the two races can be identified on plumage (easier in the hand!), studies have shown that 80% of females in East Anglia are from Iceland whereas 80% of males are from Scandinavia (or Greenland).

The only other British-ringed Snow Bunting found in France was, more typically, found on the Belgian border, but an inland record so far east is almost unprecedented. There is one slightly more bizarre record, which bears many similarities with this recent record. AC96749 (also a young male) was ringed at Walberswick, Suffolk, on 4th November 1962 and shot just 14 days later in northeast Italy. So the fact these were both males and found so far east presumably means they were both Scandinavian birds wanting to winter more to the east than the UK...

All movements of Snow Buntings to/from Britain, with VX35928 in red
Having said that... the East Norfolk Ringing Group obviously do see birds from both races, as they caught the bird below on 8th December, wearing a shiny Icelandic ring! This is a bit more expected, with almost 50 exchanges between here and Iceland.

Many thanks to Marc Solari for the photos of the bird in France to allow us to read the ring and to Dave Andrews for the photo of the Icelandic-ringed bird.

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