Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Stonechats in 2013....Part 2.

A post without pics on Birds2blog....disgusting.

I appreciated both comments below to the previous post 'Stonechats in 2013' and thought it interesting enough that I make a brief reply on the front page of Birds2blog, the comments section not being the place for discussion.

Comment 1....'Are you absolutely certain, when you started surveying Pete, that the areas you looked at were prime first choice habitat/areas. If not, the discrepancy between your findings and the source you quote may be due to the birds re-colonising what they consider to be prime sites. Hopefully the populations will then again reach a level where they recolonise your survey areas. I urge you to investigate this as it may account for the discrepancy. In this respect, do you have data on the spread of Stonechats in Bowland after the previous low ebb e.g. which sites were recolonised first. This might be very helpful, especially if the habitats have not changed a great deal, facilitating comparison'.

I'm not sure what a 'prime first choice habitat/area' for the Stonechat would actually be. What I do know is that vast areas of Bowland - like the ones I visit - are 'perfect habitat/areas' of bracken, heather, and gorse for the species to breed in, and for this reason the Stonechat could be found during a period of at least 10 years between 1999 and 2009 at all the locations I've mentioned on numerous occasions over a 15 year period both in and out of our recording area. Therefore in my view re-colonising due to the Stonechat considering prime sites is not connected with 'pairs in all the main valleys and side valleys' and my observations at other localities resulting in finding the Stonechat having deserted.

As indicated in my previous post I have no spreadsheets with figures of Stonechats in Bowland. I was privileged to be forwarded a summary of birds in Bowland for which I made it known I was grateful at the time, and as such have no idea of the extent of successful breeding of Stonechats here and am unable to investigate the suggestion of re-colonising birds to prime sites even if this did occur. So as previously stated, what 'pairs in all the main valleys and side valleys' accurately means in hard fact numbers isn't known.

I personally think the Stonechat has returned in 'small numbers' to some of the upland areas of Bowland which are covered regularly to some degree by the RSPB, whilst I have found they have not yet returned to the locations I regularly cover, remembering also that vast areas are rarely - and in some cases never - covered by anyone at all in our recording area.

Another point to make in connection with this subject of the Stonechat slow to make its return to our upland areas. If British winters like those of 2009/10 and 2010/11 are anything to go by, the conservation implications of climate change and global warming swinging the balance in favour of sedentary behaviour of Stonechats is along way off as I see it.

Comment 2.   

'I kept a close eye on the Scout Scar Stonechats this year, a pair of juveniles in August and a pair earlier on in the year. I got the impression there was only one pair of adults all Summer. This follows last year when there were definitely 2 pairs both of which produced young. Do adults produce more than one brood in a year.

In 20 visits to Helsington Barrows and Scout Scar between 1st August and 20th September amongst many other birds seen, 52 Spotted Flycatcher, 42 Redstart and most surprisingly of all a grounded Yellow Wagtail on Scout Scar'.

Note the excellent tally of birds between the dates in Aug/Sept at 
Helsington Barrows and Scout Scar, two areas I'm well overdue a visit. Three broods in a Stonechat breeding season Mark with the potential of 15 young, 18 rarely. But your records here from Scout Scar, and those sent to me throughout the year by other birders/photographers, are in line with just about everything I've said about the status of the Stonechat in 2013. 

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....But haven't been able to since last Thursday.


Mark said...

Thanks for that information.
I suspected they were the same pair
Yes, Scout Scar is well worth a visit in August and September.
It has been consistently good for passing Spotted Flycatcher and Redstarts.
The Common Redstarts prefer Scout Scar and the Spotted Flycatchers like Helsington Barrows.
Grren Woodpeckers have done well this year.Maximum of 8 on one visit.Another birdwatcher recorded 10 on one visit.
All the best

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Hi Pete .. I hope our little friend .. :-))) continue to grow in population. She's nice, brave, and beautiful .. A great bird .. Thanks Peter ..

Pete Woodruff said...

Marc....Many thanks for your interest and for sending me the records from Scout Scar and Helsington Barrows. I think we need to keep in touch.

Ana....Thanks for your kind words and for the use of your excellent images.