Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
Species
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata). Summer-plumage male. Taken at Mwnt, Ceredigion, on May 7th 2014.
Summer-plumage male. Taken at Mwnt, Ceredigion, on May 7th 2014.
(1/160th sec at f14. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata). Winter-plumage male. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon., on November 30th 2013.
Winter-plumage male. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon., on November 30th 2013.
(1/800th sec at f16. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)
Stonechat (Saxicola torquata). Female. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon., on November 3rd 2013.
Female. Taken at Otmoor, Oxon., on November 3rd 2013.
(1/1600th sec at f13. Click image for larger version. © David Hastings)

Description

L: 11.5 - 13 cm

Stonechats are small Robin-sized birds. Males have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back. Females lack the male's black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests. There are two European subspecies, rubicola in southern and eastern Europe, and hibernans in western Europe and the UK.

They are found on the southern and western coasts of Britian and Ireland, and in northern England and Scotland in the summer. Birds over-winter in southern England.

Stonechats breed in open areas with low vegetation, often heather or gorse.

They are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often doing so on the tops of low bushes. They utter a sharp loud call that sounds like two stones being tapped together.

Its conservation status is amber, owing to concerns about the European population. There are between 9000 and 23000 breeding pairs in Britain.

Sightings

16-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain (2)
15-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain
14-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain (1)
13-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain
12-Nov-2018 : Extremadura, Spain
28-Jun-2018 : Foulshaw Moss, Cumbria (2)
26-Jun-2018 : Corney Fell, Cumbria (1)

20-Sep-2017 : Portland Bill, Dorset (2)
19-Sep-2017 : Portland Bill, Dorset (4)
18-Jul-2017 : Greenham Common, Berks (2+)
02-Jan-2017 : Standlake Common, Oxon (1)

13-Nov-2016 : Otmoor, Oxon (1f)
06-Nov-2016 : La Janda, Spain (1)
05-Nov-2016 : Playa de Los Lances, Spain (6+)
03-Nov-2016 : Los Riscos, Spain (1)
03-Nov-2016 : Embalse de Montejaque, Spain (2)
02-Nov-2016 : Sierra De Las Nieves, Spain (1m)
16-Jul-2016 : Crookham Common, Berks (1juv)
02-Jun-2016 : Hatchet Small Pond, Hants (2)
23-Jan-2016 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)

25-Oct-2015 : Dersingham Bog, Norfolk (2)
23-Oct-2015 : Cley Marshes, Norfolk (1)
19-Jun-2015 : Dunkery Hill, Somerset (1)
18-Jun-2015 : Haddon Hill, Somerset (2)
17-Jun-2015 : Lynton/Lynmouth, Devon (7)
16-Jun-2015 : Heddon Valley, Devon (1)
01-May-2015 : Arne, Dorset (4)
30-Apr-2015 : Arne, Dorset (1)
30-Apr-2015 : Stoborough Heath NNR, Dorset (1)
30-Apr-2015 : Durdle Door, Dorset (2m)
22-Feb-2015 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)
02-Jan-2015 : Thrupp Lane, Radley, Oxon (2)

20-Dec-2014 : Hackpen Hill, Oxon (2)
29-Nov-2014 : Otmoor, Oxon (2)
01-Nov-2014 : Otmoor, Oxon (4)
19-Oct-2014 : Otmoor, Oxon (1m)
05-Oct-2014 : Chimney Meadows, Oxon (1)
08-May-2014 : Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire (1)
07-May-2014 : Mwnt, Ceredigion (2m,2f)
05-May-2014 : LLandewi-Brefi, Ceredigion (2)
05-May-2014 : Tregaron, Ceredigion (1)
04-May-2014 : Mwnt, Ceredigion (1m)