A Morning with Stonechats

A Morning with Stonechats
A Morning with Stonechats

Autumn weather hit hard today, it was overcast and drizzly, not the greatest day to be out walking but with the amount of migrants hitting around the country I just had to take advantage of the time I have free to head out.

A Morning with Stonechats

So that is what I did, after dropping the little lady off at school, I donned my big coat and stout walking boots and hit the patch.

Figuring it might brighten up later in the day rather than my normal route I headed straight to the pits to see if there was anything knocking about still despite the site workers (incidentally the paths are starting to take shape and it is going to be great to actually get in closer to the birds).

Farm Fields

This route means heading across the fields near the farm and it was useful as just after crossing the cattle grid I was alerted to a high pitched “peep” calling in the trees above my head, eventually I managed to pick out the solitary tit emitting the call and to my surprise it was a nice adult Coal Tit (when I birded this area, as my local patch, previously this was quite a regular sight here, so it is nice to see it still produces sometimes).

Crossing the actual field there were good numbers (8 counted) of Pied Wagtails, numerous Goldfinch and a small tit flock, as well as a stunning Great Spotted Woodpecker who flew in front of me and alighted on one of the nearby fence posts and allowed me some lovely views.

Manor Farm Pits

With the workers hard at it I wasn’t expecting to see too much but a fly over Green Sandpiper was a pleasant surprise. On the actual pits there was little but gulls, a large flock of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were swimming around, and it was pretty interesting to note the varying sizes of birds and different shades of back colour, I’m not a gull man but you can see why people spend lots of time searching through.

A single fly over Redpoll (is it Lesser or Common these days?) was a pretty impressive sighting, my previous and only record so far was 10th October 2014 so just over a year ago, must be a good time!

You’ll note till now there have been no photos of anything, well the weather really was quite dull.

Oh and you’ll notice no stonechats yet well, here they come.

A Morning With Stonechats

After mulling through the water birds I headed round past the millennium bridge. Where I spotted a small bird fly catching from the top of the abundant weeds. On closer inspection it was a cracking female Stonechat. She was quickly joined by the brighter, more gaudy, male. And they booth began to move up and down the weed line, fighting with the odd Reed Bunting, and feeding on insects disturbed by the odd Goldfinch. Or as was the case more than once, hurrying away as quickly as possible from the gaggles of nattering walkers as they passed.

I proceeded to spend a good hour or so watching, photographing and filming the pair as they put on a nice show for me, sometimes coming close and even flying right over my head. They really are stunning birds. The male has quite an evil look on his face, seems quite angry to me!

Stonechat Photos

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
Female Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Bright colours of a Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Strange pose of a Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
Female Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
Closer Female Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
Female Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
Female Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Closer Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
Another of the Male Stonechat – Manor Farm

 

Male Stonechat - Manor Farm
One last male Stonechat from my Morning with Stonechats

 

Female Stonechat - Manor Farm
The last Stonechat photo from Morning with Stonechats

 

Last Knockings

After finishing up with the chats I headed off up along the river, and through the old lock, without much incident. But a very late Chiffchaff “wheeting” in the hedgerow got me searching (I’m still hoping for a redstart); and a rather agitated (well if the call is something to go by) Little Owl.

Heading home happy with a raft of photos and videos of the Stonechats.

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2 Comments

  • Jan

    A pleasure to read and wonderful images of the Stonechats – I particularly enjoyed the video! Unfortunately they're not birds I see locally, I've had some luck seeing them heading westwards towards the Wirral coastline as well as other coastal spots in Wales and the Southwest. They really are delightful little birds. 🙂

    • AshleyBeolens

      They are one of my favourites and are by no means common locally, a few birds will appear each winter and through migration periods (no breeders sadly, they look even more stunning).

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