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Rare rustic bunting spotted in Kent

The rustic bunting, spotted at Whitstable and Seasalter golf course
The rustic bunting, spotted at Whitstable and Seasalter golf course

A birdie on the eighth at Whitstable and Seasalter golf course is nothing unusual - unless it’s a rare rustic bunting.

The sighting on Sunday had twitchers rushing to the scene from all over the county to study the bird which has not been spotted in Kent for 17 years.

Most commonly found in Scandinavia and Russia, the rustic bunting usually winters in south east Asia.

Among the 200 bird-watchers throughout the day was Andy Lawson from Dartford who took the photograph. He said: “It was a true Kent mega because it’s only the seventh time it’s been seen in Kent.

“I heard about it while birding at Dungeness with two other birders and we immediately made our way to Whitstable. 

“The locals were very friendly with many walking up and having a look through our telescopes. 

“Many Rustic Buntings winter in Korea but this bird took a wrong turn and arrived on the back of light north-easterly winds originating from Siberia. 

“Later in the day there was another sighting of a rustic bunting at Rye Harbour which may have been the same bird.”


Factfile

The rustic bunting breeds in wet coniferous woodland, laying four to six eggs in a nest in a bush or on the ground.

When caring for its chicks, it natural food consists of insects or otherwise seeds.

It is similar in size to a reed bunting and has white underparts with reddish flank, pink legs and a pink lower mandible.
The call is a distinctive 'zit’ and its song is a melancholic 'delee-delee-delee’.

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