Monday, 7 April 2014

Chat None....Rock On!

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....Not since last Thursday, but tomorrow....hopefully.

Stonechat Antonio Puigg 

Negative news on the status of the Stonechat in areas of Bowland it seems. A text this morning from a reliable contact and regular visitor to Bowland - more regular than me and that's something - was to say 'No Stonechats seen in visits to Bowland over the last two weeks'.

Rock Pipit Phillip Tomkinson

The Rock Pipit (RP) is an uncommon if regular passage migrant and winter visitor to our area in North Lancashire, and is a bird I always welcome sightings of and which generates an interest for me.

Two sub-species of RP occur in Britain, nominate petrosus and littoralis from Fennoscandia and the Baltic. It is only in recent years that most birders have been led to believe that the vast majority of Lancashire records are in fact of littoralis due to habitat preference, migratory behaviour, and relatively large numbers of passage and wintering birds. A little support of this is of a bird found dead on the Fylde in 1998 which carried a ring that recorded it as being marked in Sweden four years earlier in 1994. Another Scandinavian colour-ringed bird was also seen at Bank End Point in 1998. Previous to this kind of evidence it was common that the vast majority of records were thought to be of the British RP petrosus

The Scandinavian RP had always been seen in Lancashire as a scarce spring passage migrant actually seen at a less than annual occurrence, which arose from the fact that the two species are indistinguishable until late winter, when Scandinavian birds start to attain a distinct breeding plumage, which - as if to make complications even more so - in turn renders them confusable with the Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta

And so, the British RP is known to be exceptionally sedentary, the only significant dispersal being of birds that move from Shetland to Orkney and north-east Scotland, whilst the Scandinavian birds are migratory, with large numbers wintering on the English east coast. All this taken into account, surely there can be no reason why the British RP doesn't occur perhaps from Cumbria or western Scotland.

Thanks to Antonio and Phillip for the excellent images.

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