Partner-who-loves-tea and I went on a lighthouse photographing expedition the other day and in the process parked up alongside some Stonechats (Saxicola torquata) who were playing in the reeds and on top of a stone right in front of the car.
Unfortunately the windscreen was not as clean as I thought and the camera speed was slow so all the photos turned out quite poorly with the exception of the one below which was taken when one of them flew to the side of the car and I could lower the window.
Stonechats are robin sized birds. In spring, males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male's black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests. They breed in western and southern parts of the UK, but disperse more widely in winter. There are an estimated 59,000 breeding pairs in the UK.
A similar bird is the Whinchat but it can be easily distinguished by the white eye stripe which is lacking in the Stonechat.
Stonechats are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often doing so on the tops of low bushes or tall grasses and reeds. As the name suggests, the Stonechat utters a sharp loud call that sounds like two stones being tapped together. You can hear its call here. (There are lots of other sites with the sound of Stonechats on but most of them have the bird's song rather than the stone tapping call.)
I hadn't seen a Stonechat on the Wirral peninsula before but had often seen them in the Lake District in my fell-walking days. These are a couple of long-distance shots from the 1960s.
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I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)