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Siberian Stonechat local patch reward

The year 2008 was an excellent birding year for me. Up to the beginning of November, my most memorable finds were a Green-winged Teal at Spaarndam, Noord-Holland, on 24 March, a Short-toed Snake Eagle at Spaarndam on 23 April, a Pallid Harrier at Zwaagdijk-Oost, Noord-Holland, on 24 April, a White-rumped Sandpiper at Westhoek on 25 July, Zitting Cisticolas at Zwarte Haan, Friesland, on 5 August and at IJmuiden on 31 August, a Rosy Starling at IJmuiden on 15 September and a Dusky Warbler there on 30 October.
 
In the morning of Thursday 6 November 2008, I once again visited my local patch at IJmuiden. The weather was bleak and my expectations were low. Systematically, I checked all patches of sea-buckthorn in the narrow line of dunes close to the South Pier. There were hardly any birds around. Then, at the north end of the dunes, I flushed a small passerine. It looked like a stonechat but its flashy pale rump made me freeze instantly. Briefly I watched it through my telescope, while it perched on top of a bush. But before I could get a record shot, it had suddenly vanished. And there I was, trying to stay calm… 

The 10 minutes that followed seemed like an eternity. But then, to my relief, the bird showed again and this time I was able to clinch the identification. It was a first-winter male Siberian Stonechat. Key features I noted were a pale general impression with a hint of a pale supercilium and ‘clean’ underparts, unmarked buff rump and uppertail-coverts and very dark underwing-coverts and axillaries. It stayed all day and was admired by quite a few birders.





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Published 30 July 2018