Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Be Amazed!

The amazing and complex European Stonechat.

A recent post by Noushka showing images of the Stonechat feeding on a frozen lake in Spain has prompted me to look back on Birds2blog to find Brian Rafferty's discovery at Brockholes 8 years ago in January 2010, when he documented with remarkable images, the same behaviour of Stonechats feeding opportunistically in order to survive the severe weather conditions we were having in the UK during the winters of 2009/10 -2010/11.

I did research following this discover of the remarkable feeding behaviour of the Stonechat in harsh weather conditions, to find it not quite as unique as at first thought....'Stonechat taking food from water'....C.J.Hodgson British Birds 1978. However, no one could ever have claimed they would one day see the picture of a Stonechat diving into a hole on a frozen lake, and in this regard I still maintain the particular image above that Brian Rafferty achieved at Brockholes in January 2010 - along with several others he took - is unique.

Stonechats in the UK have been seen to hover over water and to pick up prey items off the surface, they will exploit a wide range of invertebrate species, and in the extreme a male observed in southern Israel was seen to take and eat a Scorpion estimated at up to 17mm, it was seen to throw the prey against a stone, retrieved and thrown again, then struck with the bill, and eventually eaten except for the claw. 

An African Stonechat was seen to dive and secure a 3cm Green-headed Bream, take the fish to a perch, and swallow it whole. On the other hand, there is evidence in a study which found parent birds avoided some insects such as Ladybirds, and revealed that none were brought back to young despite being available in huge number.

Image credits are to Noushka 1000-Pattes (top) and Brian Rafferty Stonechats-on-ice

Armchair Birding.

On Saturday, 3 Buzzard were seen as a social group over Bowerham, soaring together from our patio window. I found this interesting, although they do occasionally gather together both during and outside the breeding season, group soaring also occurs by birds from nearby territories.

With KT on Sunday, in addition to the female Stonechat seen, we had excellent views of the long stay Chough, which we saw come up off the shingle below Heysham Head, to come down into the sheep field north of Half Moon Bay, it then became quite mobile, including back down on to the beach, and around the rock's below the head again. 

The Chough is an often fearless, approachable, and highly vocal bird....


Richard Pegler said...

- and amazed I was, Pete! This information has just added to my love of these wonderful birds. Best wishes - - - Richard

Pete Woodruff said...

I knew when I saw the notification on the front page of a comment to this post, and had said to myself Richard Pegler before I got to it, that it was you....Thanks Richard.

Like I've said....the image of the Stonechat actually diving into the lake, is an amazing first.