Friday, 13 March 2015


It has been fairly quiet since my last post and the much anticipated arrival of early summer migrants has yet to happen in my neck of the woods. Having said that there have been a few Stonechats moving through the area in common with many coastal sites. A friend saw a party of 4 not far from my site at Billinge on the 8th and I came across a nice male there this afternoon.

I had my ringing gear with me including a couple of spring traps and a fresh supply of Waxworms. I set up one of the traps and baited it with a Waxworm and the Stonechat came to it almost immediately. Unfortunately the Stonechat managed to remove and eat the Waxworm without triggering the trap. The bird stayed feeding nearby so I decided to give it another go and I baited the trap again.

While I was waiting for the Stonechat to make its way down the fence line towards the trap I could see there were 3 Robins feeding on the ground in the same area. This looked a bit unusual as most Robins are in pairs now and not very tolerant of others in their territory so it made me wonder if these 3 could be migrants. They certainly weren't behaving like local breeding birds and were clearly intent on feeding up like the Stonechat. I thought one of the Robins may trigger the trap first but the Stonechat beat them to it and this time it was safely caught.

The 2 outermost greater coverts were slightly paler and browner than the remainder making it a first year bird.
Stonechats are fairly regular passage migrants in very small numbers at Billinge especially when the population is high. They had a really good breeding season in common with many birds last year and it looks like overwinter survival has been pretty good too.

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