Rarity Report: Pine Bunting at Schinias National Park

Schinias National Park bird list reaches 240 species, with Pine Bunting, Feb 12th 2023

Pine Buntings are very rare visitors in Greece, with only a few sightings, most of the being the last years at the northern parts of the country. On February 21st 2021, a first sighting was reported from Agios Stefanos, close to Lake Marathon. Unfortunately, the bird was not found again the following days.

This year, the situation was different. On February 12th 2023, D.Vouros a young local birder was observing a group of Reed Buntings feeding between the tamarisks at Schinias National Park. One of them looked more striked, with darker face and white crown. Jim's photos' could not lie: That was a Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalus) and it was the first confirmed record for Athens, adding one more rarity to Schinias National Park. What a great gift for his birthday, on that same day! 

Pine Bunting at Schinias National Park
Pine Bunting at Schinias National Park
(Photo: D.Vouros)

There is high possibility that they are actually two birds, as photographs from more birders show slight differences in coloration.

The species breeds across temperate Asia, migrating south to central Asia, north India and southern China in winter. It is common in all sorts of open land with some scrub or trees, including cultivation, but has a greater preference for open forest. However, in Greece is observed almost exlusively at riparian forest and habitats. 
It is a rare vagrant to western and southern Europe.

Pine Bunting at Schinias National Park
Pine Bunting at Schinias National Park
(Photo: L.Cornacchia)