Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Oh no....not another Stonechat post!

If per chance another Stonechat post on Birds2blog - well what do you expect - is likely to bore you I'd suggest moving on. But I did manage to find an excellent image below of a close relation just to break the monotony.

Whinchat. David Cookson

A Summary.

It was interesting to find in the introduction in the LDBWS 2010 Annual report, in relation to some severe winter weather in the winter 2009/10 the Stonechat was the most seriously affected species.

Anyone observing this species as I have for in excess of 12 years - especially in the Clougha/ Birk Bank (C/BB) area, couldn't help but see and record the results of this prolonged period of freezing temperatures being the demise of this smart little chat. Concentrating on this area and others - not alI in the LBWS recording area - I had noted an upturn in the status of the Stonechat from zero here on C/BB in the late 1990's to - for example - an amazing 11 pairs on 21 March 2007. However, by an awful coincidence when I visited here a month later in April the 'Guardians of the Countryside' had decided a 'burn' was a good idea and used it as another tool in their armoury for 'control' under the cover of land management. It goes without saying that the result of this 'good idea' was that the 23 birds I saw in March was reduced to 4 though I'm not suggesting that this event was the sole reason for 4 birds to be left from the 23 found but it sure didn't help and I just wish these people would have taken their torches elsewhere on this occasion.

My observations of the Stonechat on C/BB proved that the upturn in the status of the species which began at the end of the 90's had peaked around 2005/6 and that by the end of the winter of 2009/10 they had virtually disappeared from just about everywhere though I won't labour the issue with statistics here. However, if I was to compare last years Stonechat records on C/BB with those of 2007 when I visited every month of the year, by contrast when I scaled down my surveys in 2011 at 9 locations, I made just 4 to C/BB by which time the Stonechat had been virtually lost making my efforts almost pointless and we were unfortunately almost back to the late 90's with the species. That said, I did find a male up there on 23 July, and a female on 25 August.

Another previous stronghold was on Harrisend, though this area also only produced 4 birds on 24 March from 6 visits in 2011. I concluded that these were migratory birds passing through as I found not a solitary bird up here despite three more visits in June/July/August by which time I had given up on the Stonechat here too. 

It is interesting to note my figures for 2010 agreed with the RSPB findings on the United Utilities Estate on the Bowland Fells where, by comparison to a full survey 66 pairs of Stonechat were found in 2007 representing 50% more than those found in 2010.

Rest assured....I shall renew and pursue the Stonechat relentlessly in 2012 whilst bearing in mind my record of 12 Stonechats on Newby Moor, Clapham on 1 February 2005. 

Well, not being able to leave Birds2blog void of a couple of photographs, how about these....

Black Redstart. Geoff Gradwell 

The smart little Black Redstart which has been present at Knott End for 'a while' now. Thanks for this GG. 

And here's one to put you on your guard if you think you found a Red -crested Pochard. This bird was found at Marton Mere recently and as it turned out....its a hybrid! Thanks for this goes to Cliff Raby  



Rohrerbot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rohrerbot said...

Note to self. Never write early in the morning before coffee:) My thoughts are all garbled.
Great closeups. The survey you mention is interesting. Especially the numbers of this bird. Why do the numbers drastically rise and fall all within a several years? Is the burn or freezing temps the biggest cause? Or is there something else adding to it? Thanks for sharing. Interesting bird.

Anonymous said...

As always, interesting stuff Pete, keep posting. Hope things are improving for you... thanks for deeming my image(s) useful.

Warren Baker said...

Keep up the Stonechat work pete, even if you find fewer and fewer birds it still tells the story of these lovely little passerines. Hopefully they will bounce back again, and i'll get more than the odd Migrant fleetingly passing through my patch!

Christian said...

How could you get bored with a shot like that! Bloomin marvelous.

PCF said...

Nice to see you posting again.
Northumberlands Stonechats seriously affected by the recent winters with inland birds virtualy wiped out and coastal birds down to a minimum. My own patch had breeding birds for the three years from 2007-2009 but in 2011 only one passage bird sighted!

Pete Woodruff said...

One or two thanks/replies here.

Rohrerbot. Weather related but burns - particularly late ones - certainly don't help.

Anonymous. Your images always useful and excellent.

Warren. The migratory birds will take up the ascendancy now.

Christian. Yes, BR's SEO images are brilliant.

PCF. Many thanks for the Northhumberland Stonechats info it is much appreciated.

Tammy said...

Love the focus on the Whinchat! Great blog!

Mark said...

Glad to see you out birdwatching again!
Found a female Stonechat at Lillymere near Wyndhammere just north of Kirkby Lonsdale.Saw it on Sunday.
There was a winter Stonechat here a few years ago but none seen in the last two cold winters.
I have reported it on the Birds In Soouth Cumbria website.
All the best
All the best

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks Tammy, all the way from Florida in the USA....Great stuff.

Mark....If you find this reply would you e-mail me as I can't find any contact address for you.

Thanks for looking in on Birds2blog and for your comment which is much appreciated.