Monday, 20 March 2017

Post 461 - Simply Beautiful, Slightly Breathtaking, Snow Buntings!

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) at Redcar beach
Hey everyone, today's post is 461. It's been a while since I've done a species post like I focused on in my original year of nature so I thought it was time I did that sort of thing again.  I also wanted to cover a lovely species that I've seen over the Winter before they depart as the spring migrations get
underway. These birds are, or well were, still here this weekend as I saw another at the weekend.

Recently, I've been using Rare Bird Alert quite a bit, and trying to see if I can get my list to 200. There hasn't been an 'official' update of my count yet, but I'm sure I must be almost there. Anyway, you may have heard in other posts that I've been doing a lot of 'Bunting Hunting', and I thought I'd do a post on one of the Buntings I'd hunted, but of course only with my camera. If only that was the case across the rest of North Yorkshire :-(

Hopped up on to a groyne post
Well Rare Bird Alert told me that there were some interesting birds on the coast not too far from me at Redcar and I just had to make the trip to see if I could find them. This one is probably one of the cutest birds I've seen yet, and I was able to get really close to them! I was surprised by how easy they were to photograph, they lined up perfectly for me! They were quite used to all the people milling about too and sat tight in their spots until people got quite close. I spent about an hour watching these lovely birds. I am of course talking today about the simply beautiful Snow Bunting!

Here are some facts:

  • They are small birds (even for Bunting size) with their tiny length of about 16cm, and a wingspan about double that at around 35cm.
  • Sexual dimorphism can be seen in these birds, with the males weighing 42 grams and the Females a tiny 35!
  • They have an amber status in the UK, probably as there are so few here, and are of least concern in Europe, and globally.
As , very kindly, did its friends!
  • In 2007, there were 60 breeding pairs in the Summer, so this backs up my statement of them being so few, and they are described as being 'resident breeders'.
  • Their European size can be between about 700,000 to 1.7 million pairs, so this shows that we only get a tiny percentage of them.
  • Their egg size is 22 x 16 mm on average, and it only weighs 3.1g (only 6% of this is shell).
  • From the egg being laid to the bird fledging is actually a very quick process in this bird, incubation lasts literally 2 weeks, and then fledging happens 12 days after that!
  • Their clutch size is usually about 5, but can range to 4 or 6 as well, and sometimes the bird will have two broods, depending on how late in the year they have the first one.
Lovely birds set against a slightly stormy sea (Doris was on the way!)
  • They live about 3 years, so they have to start breeding the first year they can, but the longest a Snow Bunting has lived (that we know about) is almost 9 years! Exactly 8 years 11 months and 2 days.
  • It also has one of the prettiest common names I have ever come across, it can be called, the 'Snowflake'

Thanks to BTO & RSPB for the facts.

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Great post matey, one of the classic winter birds for me that can't go a winter without seeing. Thought you maybe interested in this -

    1. Thanks Elliot - interesting link too - as these look quite pale do you think they are the icelandic types?

  2. I love that final shot of them all on the posts there with the sea in the background, beautiful birds, lovely post! - Tasha

    1. Thanks Tasha - one of my favourite spots this winter :-)

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