Since reading an article I've had since 2015 on observations of the Stonechat, I've been able to add more interesting facts to my learning about this enigmatic little gem.
Juvenile Stonechat. Ana Minguez.
Interesting colour-ringed sightings confirm that some adults, and some 1st winter birds, overwinter in upland areas. Records of colour-ringed chicks from upland sites show that they have wintered within 2km of their natal site, others that have moved to the coast, and some which have migrated to continental Europe. Such is the variation in the Stonechat migratory behaviour, evidence has also shown that an individual retains a pattern for life.
In a personal quest to find wintering Stonechat, I'm now seeing fewer birds than I saw during September at the five locations visited in Bowland. The flocking behaviour - my best early example being 18 Caton Moor 26 August - has ceased, the birds have dispersed, sometimes into the winter territories that I'm looking for, or to migrate to the Mediterranean.
Up to 5 Stonechat have already been seen at Cockersand through Sept/Oct, and records passed on to me or collected from Lanc's/Fylde websites during this period amount to 20 records of 39 Stonechat.
All that I need now, is for the weather to buck up, so I can get on with the business in hand.
I'm grateful to John Callion for corresponding with me, and for allowing me to make some references to his article Observations of breeding European Stonechats in Cumbria. British Birds 2015.
Heysham 'Golden Oldie'.
OK, so this record is now ancient, but this Thursday 5 November, sees 15 years since I found a nice little job at Heysham where I had decided to pay one of my occasional visits.
Arriving at the power station Stage 2 outfall, I had excellent views of an adult Little Gull. At Stage 1, another adult Little Gull was accompanied by a juvenile Arctic Tern which found itself in the records book as being the latest one ever in Lancashire, where it remained at Heysham until 12 November. As I walked away from the outfall toward the south harbour wall, I saw a bird between the outfall and the old wooden jetty, for a moment I thought it was another Little Gull, but soon realised it was a 1st winter Grey Phalarope behaving in it's typical spinning habit whilst feeding....Nice.
Some brilliant autumn gold around now, as in the header, taken in Bowland in a previous life!