Wednesday, 10 August 2011
My PBC year list has been pretty stagnant just lately and after missing out on a Purple Heron, Osprey and Curlew a couple of weeks back I began to wonder if I would soon add another bird to the list! An early morning visit to my local patch at Maxey GP answered my question. On a new piece of fencing erected in the Spring was a lovely Whinchat. It kept dropping down to the ground and then returning to the same post or its neighbour, doing what Whinchats do. It was quite distant and jumpy so these shots are just record shots really of only the second known bird in the PBC area this year (the other was in the Spring and I missed out on that one too). This lovely bird brings my PBC year list limping to 161.
The Whinchat is a summer migrant to the U.K. arriving in April and May and is just seen on passage in our area. They breed on moorland edges, amongst bracken, in young forestry plantations with areas of short grass and where there are prominent perches to hunt from. They are also found in other rough grassland areas, including water meadows and upland farms.
They feed mainly on invertebrates, including mayflies, caddisflies, moths, beetles, spiders, small snails but will also eat some plant material, such as blackberries.
The numbers of Whinchat are slowly falling, in line with a lot of our other summer migrants. This could be due to the `tidying` up of the countryside and overgrazing at nesting sites, but also there may be problems at their winter grounds south of the Sahara, especially when a drought occurs.