#Wild Wednesday: I spy … a Stonechat

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On one of my daily walks this week I noticed an unusual bird in a row of ash trees planted alongside the road. It was hopping from tree to tree, always just ahead of me, rather like a robin would do, but robin it was not.

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Stonechat, Saxicola rubicola

I thought I recognised it, from long ago holiday treks across moorland, as a stonechat, Saxicola rubicola. I have confirmed that ID since I got home to run a search for it.

The Wildlife Trust describes it as a dumpy bird, slightly smaller than a robin, with a big head and a short tail. I’d be suing for slander if I were a stonechat! It is much prettier than that makes it sound.

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I didn’t get close to it for some time, in spite of some creeping. It kept one tree ahead, but it was clearly more preoccupied with looking for food in the long grass.

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They do like a bit of invertebrate apparently, as well as seeds and fruit.

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They are residents of heathland, but disperse more widely during the winter, which might explain it being on the edge of Cambridge.

I can’t be certain if this is male or female, since I am not very familiar with the bird and in some shots it looks very black and rusty chested, but in others much browner and paler. Maybe someone out there can say?

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After following the stonechat around for five minutes, we both doubled back to the original trees and I managed a couple of closer, zoomed pictures.

I’ll keep my eye out for him in future for sure. Meanwhile I am linking this post to Piglet in Portugal who is starting a #WildWednesday, getting people to share their love and photos of ‘wild’ fauna and flora. Do join in if you can!

 

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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17 Responses to #Wild Wednesday: I spy … a Stonechat

  1. pbmgarden says:

    What a beautiful bird. Great find.

  2. I am surprised you were able to get so close to him to take such good photographs. I love the last photo where he is looking directly at you: Are you following me? We had a pair in our garden one year and didn’t know what it was until a friend said listen to the call

    Thanks for joining me. Nature never ceases to surprise me.

    • It’s possible that if that stonechat has been around for most of winter, that it is used to cyclists, joggers, walkers etc. going passed up the road (everyone is using it as an exercise route, ‘cos it’s the least muddy track around).
      I read about their call, but so far haven’t heard it myself.
      How lucky you were to have such interesting visitors to your garden!
      Thanks for hosting, Piglet!

  3. How lucky to come across this fellow, he’s very sweet, and looks good against the snow.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    Your patience paid off, you got some good captures of this little cutie… ‘Dumpy’ isn’t what I’d call it at all!

    • It was lucky for me that it was more fixated on catching insects than on keeping track of me! Dumpy seems too derogatory … ‘russet-breasted’ to parallel the description for robins?

  5. shoreacres says:

    I agree with Eliza; this certainly isn’t a ‘dumpy’ little bird. Maybe we could call it ‘well-formed,’ or ‘compact’!

    • No mention of ‘dumpy’ for robins in any of the descriptions and they are very similar builds. ‘Well-formed’ is good. I quite like ‘hearty’ to convey the rusty-breasted character!

  6. Chloris says:

    Amazing, not just did you spot it but you took great photos. What a pretty little bird.

  7. Cathy says:

    Well spotted and well recognised, Allison – I wouldn’t have known what it was but the Golfer probably would. It was good to have a few days recently when the ground was frozen and I could walk some of my favoured routes again

    • Yes, we’ve been avoiding the alleyways, ‘cos they are veritable mud baths, in between the extensive puddles. We are not flooded luckily, but the Cam is spilling out across local roads, paths and fields.

      • Cathy says:

        There was flooding here too after the thaw last week – it looks very pretty and rarely affects any properties. We leave on a hill above the valley and the road was passable by the time we needed to go anywhere

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