As well our ringed Stonechats wintering on the reserve, we’ve also received some interesting sightings this winter of our ringed birds from elsewhere in Norfolk, with both birds born last season on Dersingham Bog NNR being reported and the first sighting of a bird born several years ago but not reported since. Birds have been seen at Heacham, Deepdale Marsh, Roydon Common and Holme Bird Observatory.
Of our crop of 48 ringed juveniles last season, so far 18 ringed birds have been reported to us, which is a good reporting ratio as well as a survival rate for the juveniles; no doubt helped by the milder winter this year. It’s interesting to speculate how many other Stonechats from last year’s ringed crop have survived and just not yet been seen or reported to us.
Of those 17 reported Stonechats, 9 are now on territory on Dersingham Bog NNR, with 1 more ringed male seen in mid-winter but who no longer seems to be around. Of those reported ringed birds, 10 were male and 6 were female.
One male was been tracked this winter from Deepdale Marsh along the Norfolk coast and is now on territory at Thornham, where he is paired with a female and appears to be breeding. That male was first seen at Deepdale last September just a couple of months after he fledged from a second brood of one of our core territories, so a decent distance for a juvenile who’s not long left the natal site.
Interestingly, at the same time he was seen at Deepdale, there was another of our ringed males at the same site. While the second male was also born last season, it was from a different territory on Dersingham Bog and these males fledged a month apart. Amazing then how they ended up at the same spot at the same time.
Another of our ringed males has since appeared at Holme where he is similarly paired with an unringed female and currently feeding first brood young (thanks to Pete Bangs for this most recent photo).
One ringed male was seen by one of our survey volunteers, Les Bunyan, on Roydon Common and it’s the first report of this bird since he fledged from Dersingham Bog in 2015. It’s entirely possible he’s been at Roydon for a while but perhaps just not reported?
A tantalising glimpse of a ringed male at Winterton by Dave Roberts was probably one of our birds too, although the ring combination couldn’t quite be nailed down but hopefully if the bird remains at that site and breeds, someone may yet get a better view of its ring combination.
Snettisham Coastal Park seems to be a good ‘gathering ground’ for Stonechats in general, both in the winter and in the breeding season, and Ray Roche reported a ringed female seen there in April this year, so it’ll be interesting to see if she pairs up and breeds.
We’re very grateful to everyone for reporting their sightings and for the cracking photos submitted and for allowing us to use them on the website and our Twitter feed. We can only plead for more sightings really – we’d love to hear from anyone who sees a ringed Stonechat, even if it’s not one of ours! We’d especially like to hear of any which are successfully breeding, both in Norfolk and elsewhere.