Mystery of Bunting
A chance sighting of an unidentified bird leads to a surprising discovery for the author.
The birds are roughly 17 cm long and breed in open scrubby area including agricultural land. The females lay three to five eggs in a nest on a tree or in a bush. Their natural food consists of seeds or when feeding the young, insects. The IUCN Red list has marked the Bunting’s Conservation Status as of Least Concern (Population stable)
It was a very cloudy afternoon of September 2018, when I went on a search for an Ashy crowned sparrow lark, sighted earlier beside a pond in Purulia Town on outskirts of Purulia District, West Bengal. There was sparse vegetation in the form of small grass, surrounding the pond from all sides. There were also some bushes and one small tree in the vicinity. While I was taking pictures of the Ashy crowned sparrow lark, a small bird flew over the grassland and sat on the tree. I noticed the movement, but as it was different from my target, I gave it less importance. Yet, being a little curious and suspicious, I took four photos of this bird from the distance.
My efforts to identify this bird left me in a euphoric dream-state. The camera images revealed the bird’s identity to be either a Black-headed bunting or a Red-headed Bunting The bird was Emberiza bruniceps or Emberiza melanocephala (Red/Black-headed Bunting female).
Because the imm/females of both the red and black-headed buntings are so similar it is very difficult to distinguish or identify correctly. This was the second record of this rare species to be sighted from Purulia after 2016 & third record from West Bengal after 2017.
Read also: Of Dancing flames and Geese
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