Monday, 5 March 2012

We needed a Chat

First winter? Male Stonechat (Neville Smith)
A fine male Stonechat (Neville Smith)
These two beautiful Stonechats were discovered at The Scrubs over the weekend. We presume that they are migrants heading back to who knows where to set up their territories ahead of the returning females.

Stonechats were once regular winterers on my patch with at least three birds on the grassland every day between late October and mid-March. Some years we would have a fall of up to 10 bird birds for a day or two in early October and late March/early April. Those were excellent counts when you consider that the area that they chose to spend their time was not expansive in any way.

Alas, after years of regular birds we sadly lost our wintering chats during the first snowfall of December 2009. Since then, Stonechats have become a real scarcity. Each time we see them is celebrated. Only one male remains now. Let's hope we get some more before the breeding season begins in earnest.

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