If you hear a loud, harsh bird song on the wetlands in Spring, you might just have bumped into a Stonechat, a cousin of the robin with the same cheeky poise and flamboyant orange chest. And did I mention that they are loud?
A permanent resident not fond of inner city living, if you want to bump into a stonechat, you’re best bet is to head to a nature reserve. In particular; wetlands, moorlands and upland areas with a rich amount of plants, water and their main food source – insects! I discovered that they love to perch on reeds, hedges etc, so find areas rich in perches to get a good sighting of them – which RSPB Newport Wetlands has plenty of!
So once you’ve think you’ve spotted one, how do you identify them? Stonechat’s have the same twitchy movements as a robin, but they have a much darker back, with prominent white collars. Males have a gloriously glossy black cap, and both males and females have a bright orangey-peachy chest, which is unmissable come spring!
I was lucky enough to bump into a rather rowdy family of stonechat’s on a recent trip to Newport Wetlands. The male was making a big show, perched on top of a bush looking over the reeds. Not too far by was a juvenile stonechat, which looked incredibly similar to it’s cousin, a juvenile robin. Also perched, learning from it’s parents, and no doubt waiting for a meal!
During the same trip I also bumped into a Sedge Warbler, a summer resident who had most likely just migrated from Africa. No mean feat. Another loud singing bird who enjoys wetland habitats, this one was darting between coastal trees and hedges causing a ruckus, so was really hard to photograph! I managed to get a good enough picture to identify it.
There are many different warblers in the UK, so I identified this guy by using the colour of it’s legs (dark), the patterning around it’s face (clear light stripes) and it’s habitat (the wetlands). The RSPB have a handy guide to identifying warblers which I often refer to – though most of the time it’s always a chiffchaff!
For more posts about wildlife in and around Cardiff, click here to read more!