Report Sightings

One of the main priorities of the project is to gather sightings and records of colour ringed Stonechats. Sightings so far have provided us with a wealth of detailed information on their behaviour on the site, but more records will add to that detail and help us understand the activities of one of Dersingham Bog’s key breeding species.

In particular, it will allow us to build up a very detailed picture of their movements, not just across Dersingham Bog reserve but further afield in areas we can’t cover thoroughly by ourselves.

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We are only a small team, so any sightings which you can contribute will be immensely valuable. It all helps to clarify the overall picture of Stonechat wintering and breeding distribution, as well as their movements across the county and you’ll find our project posters in various nature reserve hides and different locations along the coast.

So please help us find our ringed birds from Dersingham Bog. You may even find colour ringed Stonechats from other sites.

The following Stonechat colour ring projects have these combinations on their right legs:SC CR close up1
Dersingham – grey/metal and metal/grey

From 2017, Dersingham Bog will be using dark green/metal or metal/dark green

Kelling – dark green/metal
Thetford – red/metal

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Sightings can be emailed to northwestnorfolkstonechats@gmail.com

With details of the sighting, it would be very helpful to know:

*  colour ring combinations on each leg. Even if you can’t read all 4 colour rings on both legs, the right leg combo will tell us the natal site and how far the bird has moved
* whether it’s male or female or a juvenile
* location, including a grid reference if possible
* any interesting behaviour, particularly if it’s related to a breeding attempt

In return, we will send you a detailed history of the Stonechat, where possible. Any records of birds that have not been ringed at Dersingham Bog will be sent to the relevant ringer who will contact you with details of the bird.

If the colour-ringed Stonechat was on Dersingham Bog itself, you may find this downloadable PDF map of the site useful in accurately describing which part of the reserve the ringed bird was on. Dersingham Bog Map As always with the reserve, it’s very helpful if you can keep to established tracks when searching for Stonechats. Often Stonechat pairs will set up a territory or nest very close to the main paths anyway so there’s a good chance you’ll see a pair without needing to wander too far.

Reading the colour combination for all four rings can take time and patience with such a mobile species. Often you can line up your scope on a perched Stonechat and be just about to read the colours when it flies off! Or one leg is obscured by vegetation.

It’s sometimes possible to see the colour rings with binoculars if you are lucky to get a close view, but a scope is more useful and, of course, photographs help enormously, and we’d welcome being able to use your images of our ringed birds on our website or blog.

If you persevere, it can be enormously satisfying to finally read the colour combination and then receive information back on ‘your’ bird. And if your bird stays at the site where you first saw it and subsequently breeds, you’ll have the pleasure of watching all that unfold.

SC-CR close up3It might also be worth mentioning that some colours can be more difficult than others to read in the field. It’s not always easy to see the order of grey over metal or metal over grey, but it’s very helpful as it will determine the year ringed at Dersingham Bog, and with so many juveniles, we’ve had to repeat some of the colour combinations on the left leg.

Dark colours against dark legs can also be tricky to see and some pale colours like yellow and light blue can ‘bleach’ in bright sunlight and look white, or can fade with age. Plastic rings can also be lost through wear and tear more easily than the metal ring, so sometimes you may only get a Stonechat with 2 or 3 colour rings.

So sometimes it does take careful scrutiny but don’t be deterred! Even if you can only read some of the combination, it’s still worth reporting it to us. As mentioned above, even just seeing the right leg will give us valuable information on where the Stonechat was ringed and it will add to the picture of longer inter-site movements.