Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 27 December 2015

Stonechats at Bodney, Norfolk

A day of incessant rain and drizzle with full cloud cover giving very poor lighting conditions. It remains very mild at 10 degrees Celsius.
A late afternoon walk close to STANTA (Stanford Training Area) at Bodney saw the vast landscape shrouded in grey, miserable to some, but to me just another mood of the Breckland beauty.
My walk appeared bird-less initially, however, as I walked along what may appear featureless roadside verges, I detected movement amongst some taller weeds and I thought Stonechat, inspection through my binoculars revealed a male Stonechat clinging to the weed.  A female or 1st winter bird was seen a short while later close to the male.
The male Stonechat flew into a Hawthorn where he remained for a while offering good views despite the appalling light.  I was fortunately close to the Stonechat and made the following notes:

A small Chat with an all-dark head and chin clearly demarcated along the neck-line.  The dark head contrasts strongly with the white neck patch and brown upperparts.  The breast and underparts appeared a peachy colour. The upperparts and upper-tail were brown, the mantle was streaked.  The greater coverts and tertials were pale brown fringed.  The primaries were pale fringed and at distance gave the appearance of a pale wing-bar.  In flight, both birds showed a white patch on the inner wing 'braces'.  The tail was constantly flicked.

As is typical with Chat species, the Stonechats always remained close to the ground but often perching on a taller weed stem.
Stonechats are mostly short distance migrants and it is highly likely that these birds originate from a territory within STANTA.
I have provided this small account of the Stonechat encounter just to show that despite the dismal conditions, very poor light, and what may appear to be a life-less day, that there is always something to find and observe as with my beautiful Stonechats.

3 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures in the post above...
    he's almost in full colour plumage.
    SDM... agree, in our case very short, they simply move "up slope" to the wooded ridge....
    however, this year, they haven't as yet.
    All are confumbled by the unseasonal warmth... I saw a "big, black bomber" bee two days ago... one of the huge carpenter bees that should be tucked up warm somewhere to overwinter....
    and our Stonies keep popping up...
    here, they love the top wire of the fences and all fields have a pair...
    or, in the case of our land, and another large field down the road...
    two pairs!
    However, if there isn't a fence with posts and wire...
    there isn't a 'chat family!!

    I think the Christmas Spirit(s) must still be within...
    I read STANTA as SANTA!! OOPS!

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  2. Thank you for your comments Tim regarding the Stonechat pictures, these were taken in pretty miserable conditions, and when the bird decided to come its closest to me.....in the darker side of the bush.
    With your comment Tim regarding the Bee, I saw a Tortoiseshell butterfly in Wymondham on 17th December.
    Tim, I really do hope you had a great Christmas. Have a very happy 2016.

    Paul

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  3. Happy New Year to you too Paul...
    may 2016 see many fine photo opportunities present themselves....
    when you have a camera to hand!!
    We all know that hundreds do when you are "unarmed"...
    and they will insist on sitting there, smirking, until you are just about to raise the camera....
    then fly over your head blowing bird-rasberries...
    or dive deep into that patch of scrub and sing loudly...
    out of sight!!
    Keep well.

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