Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis

Ivinghoe Beacon - 6th November 2011

Photos copyright
Dave Hutchinson

Photos copyright Mike Wallen


Found by Dave Hutchinson and Iain Main at about 9:30am, this Snow Bunting stayed long enough for several local birders to catch up with this inland rarity.  Amazingly it was seen in exactly the same place as the 2005 bird, although no doubt attracted by the steep hill with bare summit.  It was later seen to fly off but possibly drop down onto the farmland below.

Ivinghoe Beacon - 11-12th December 2005

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Photos copyright Adrian Parker

This female Snow Bunting was found by Mark Telfer on Ivinghoe Beacon.  It was seen feeding on the top of the beacon summit on a mixture of seeds and grubs, and was seen to eat a large caterpillar.    This was perhaps the closest it could find to it's breeding habitat as the site is very open and windy.

The bird was incredibly tame and was almost trodden on by birders!  At one time the bird was happy to peck around in soil held in the Adrian's hand!

This record follows close on the Little Marlow bird in April (see below).  Prior to this the last record was in 1999. 

Little Marlow Gravel Pit - 30th April 2005

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Photo copyright Jim Rose

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Photos copyright Dave Ferguson

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Photos copyright Adrian Parker

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Photos copyright Mervyn Wallen

This female Snow Bunting was very much a surprise find at Little Marlow Gravel Pit and is nearly a month earlier than the previous latest of 17 prior records.  The finding of the bird was a little bizarre.  Mervyn Wallen stopped off at Little Marlow for what was intended to be a brief visit.  A local man armed with binoculars was trying to show his young son some of the birds on the sand spit, but some were hard to identify given the distance.  He approach Mervyn and asked for help.  Mervyn picked out a Common Sandpiper and a Ringed Plover before coming to a passerine.  In his own words his mouth went dry and in a horse voice asked the man with the binoculars to find Snow Bunting in his field guide.  Not having a mobile phone with him Mervyn started to panic a bit but fortunately several of the Little Marlow regulars arrived and news of the bird was put out.

Being found during the middle of the day on a Saturday, many local birders and county listers, managed to see the bird as it fed on the extensive sand spit (which is a pretty good replica of their preferred winter habitat).

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