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Whinchat: on the wild side

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Whinchat: on the wild side

Some migrant species are seen regularly in autumn as they pass through Dorset heading south for the winter but are less likely to be seen on the return journey in spring. The whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) is one of those birds that fall into this category. I think, in spring, these birds have a single driving force that keeps them on the wing until they reach their breeding grounds. On the return journey there is less pressure and they take their time and stop off to feed as they tackle the long journey ahead of them.

The whinchat is a relative of the stonechat and both like wild places to live but whilst the stonechat is quite common on the heaths and scrubby cliff tops of Dorset it is not wild enough for the whinchat that likes the upland moors further north. The stonechat does not migrate like the whinchat that will over winter in Africa. Although related and similar the whinchat has a more upright posture that the stonechat and so gives the impression of having a slimmer figure.

Whin is an alternative name for gorse and they certainly do like have a liking for gorse and scrub.




This is just my nature note: for lots more information including distribution maps, status charts, identification guidance and more photographs go to the species home page by clicking/tapping the icon