A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Monday, 23 February 2015

Little Bunting gives great views in Cardiff

With a showy Little Bunting having been present for the last 2 weeks down in Cardiff, we finally got the chance to pay a visit and admire it last weekend after a busy couple of weeks – thankfully it has stuck around and seems to be overwintering. Driving down on the Friday night, me and Alex were up bright and early the next morning and made the quick ten minute journey from our hotel to Forest Farm NR. We soon located the hide next to the warden’s complex, just a short 2 minute walk up the road from the car park, where the bird had been favouring throughout its stay.

Upon arrival there was no sign of our target, but it was just a matter of waiting as the bird has been giving views down to 2 metres each day for the entirety of its stay. 2 Reed Buntings fluttered in, perching on the fencing and piles of brushwood before hopping down to drink and forage by the large puddle right in front of the hide.

A beautiful male Bullfinch fed on the adjacent feeders whilst a Nuthatch – one of my favourite woodland birds – flitted back and too storing seeds.

Before long, a shout went up that the Little Bunting had flown in and was sat on the fence, but raising my bins it immediately dashed back in to the nearby hedge cover, offering just brief flight views of its back end.

After a quick search in the nearby holly tree and hedge lining the field, I spotted the bird flying back in to land on one of the piles of twigs, and immediately got Alex on to our target. Success. After scurrying around deep inside the cover of the branches, the bird teased us by remaining obscured, before slowly creeping out through the fence and in to the open right in front of us, providing absolutely fantastic views. 

Little Bunting


Little Bunting

Little Bunting

Feeding on the discarded seed next to the fence line, we watched the bunting for a good ten minutes, the bird happily providing some great photo opportunities as it foraged in front of us. Eventually it crept back in to the brushwood pile before disappearing off in to the hedge once more.

Little Bunting

Little Bunting

With plenty of records of Little Bunting in Britain, there are usually a scattering of individuals each autumn that make it over to the UK from their usual haunts of Russia and the East. Several have displayed the tendency to overwinter in recent years like this bird has, with 3 actually known to be wintering at present this year, the other sites being Ashdown Forest in Sussex and Gulval in Cornwall.

Very similar to a Reed Bunting, the subtle differences can be quite obvious once you get your eye in, in particular the slightly smaller size and much finer and neater streaking on the breast as opposed to the thicker, bolder streaks on a Reed Bunting. The thin, pale wingbar is also another feature to look out for, as is the small pale dot on the facial markings behind the eye – both characteristic of Little Bunting in comparison to a Reed. I also registered neater and more defined facial patterns on the Little Bunting, with a slight grey shawl around the neck.

Little Bunting

These were absolutely brilliant views and we really couldn’t have asked for more – the bird putting in an excellent show. A great opportunity to see the bird at such close quarters instead of being half hidden in a hedge, and an excellent chance to really take note of the features and to get my eye-in in case I ever come across one in the field.

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