Siberian/Steynegeri Stonechat – records

Saxicola maurus/stejnegeriClochdar y Cerrig SiberiaVery rare vagrant

Stejneger’s stonechat was generally considered a subspecies of either common stonechat (as Saxicola torquatus stejnegeri) or Siberian stonechat (as Saxicola maurus stejnegeri), but recent genetic evidence has shown that it is distinct, and so it is now accepted as a distinct species.

1986 – Siberian Stonechats subspecies maura or stejnegeri were noted at Strumble Head on 12th October 1986 (G.H. Rees et al.). 

1991 – Skokholm from 11th to 15th October (NB Donovan & Rees 1994 have this as 1990)

1992 – a female 30th Sept to 2nd October 1992 (NB date from GHR archive/Skokholm report – Donovan & Rees, 1994 have it as 20th October). (record not submitted to BBRC)

1997 – A Siberian stonechat of the S. t. maura group was at Strumble Head on 6th October (C Benson, GH Rees). Pembs Bird Report 1997

2017 – A female type bird was found in East Bog by Leighton Newman (LN) on the 2nd of November. It was then seen by LN and EMS at the Farm It was incredibly mobile and showed just well enough to get some record shots before disappearing. Skomer Bird Report 2017

Stonechat – 2003-07 breeding

Saxicola rubicola – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed7196
Breeding probable2458
Breeding possible3113
No of tetrads occupied126 (of 478)167 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads26.4%34.1%

The perky male Stonechat with its black head, ruddy breast and “tack–tack” call, accompanied by its browner mate, is frequently encountered in the county at all times of the year. Its distribution is mostly linked to that of gorse, be it associated with heather, bracken, grass or bramble. It has also demonstrated an ability to use new conifer plantations but this has proved to be a transient inhabitation, the habitat becoming progressively unsuitable with tree growth. Nests are usually sited low down in dense growth at the base of a bush or in a tussock.

Comparison of the two surveys indicates a spread from the coast in the St David’s area and in the Preseli Hills.  Distribution at the coast tended to be linear, with a lower density than found at the more extensive heathlands. Donovan and Rees (1994) postulated a county breeding population of 200 pairs based on the 1984-88 survey plot, coupled with extensive experience of the areas involved. This estimate has generally been accepted as realistic for that time, bearing in mind the deflating effect of the cold winter of 1982. They concluded that the population was below optimum at that time.

The BBS has indicated that the Stonechat population increased in Wales by 338% between 1994 and 2007, in response to a period when there were no severe winters, conditions which have favoured this triple brooded species. As the Pembrokeshire population has expanded its distribution during this period and increased density was apparent in many localities, it seems reasonable to apply the BBS findings to Pembrokeshire. This suggests a population of 650 – 700 pairs by 2007, equating to an average of four pairs per occupied tetrad.

More about the Stonechat in Pembrokeshire

Stonechat – 1994

Saxicola torquata – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident

1984-88
Breeding confirmed71
Breeding probable24
Breeding possible31
No of tetrads occupied126 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads26.4%

Mathew (1894) said “this little species is so numerous, to be seen everywhere by the roadside, perched on the furze on every common, on the coast as well as far inland, that it is likely to be considered one of our characteristic county birds”. Lockley et al. (1949) found the Stonechat to be a common resident on all furzy commons and escarpments in the county and noted that they sometimes bred on the offshore islands.

The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found that they were very local inland but were well distributed around the coast. The survey began after the population had been reduced by the cold winter of 1982, which would probably have affected the inland birds more severely than those on the coast. There is also less suitable habitat remaining in inland Pembrokeshire than there was in 1949. By the end of the survey, about 200 pairs were estimated to have bred (see map), but this level is below optimum.

Numbers have been decimated by many severe winters in the past. The winter of 1947 almost wiped them out (Lockley et al. 1949) and that of 1962/63 also left very few survivors (Donovan 1963). Numbers recover rapidly in subsequent summers largely because of high productivity, with some pairs rearing three broods in a year. A pair at Cwmbrandy, Fishguard, was suspected of rearing four broods in 1962. Breeding is still sporadic on the offshore islands of Skomer and Ramsey, with Stonechats disappearing after severe winters and recolonising again when the general population is at a high level. 

They occur on the islands, including Grassholm and the Smalls, after the breeding season, when they also become more widespread in the county generally, occupying more diverse habitat than during the summer. It is likely that some of our breeding stock moves out of the county. Apparent falls on headlands suggest that some movement takes place and one ringed at Skokholm in September 1960 was recovered in Spain that November. Siberian Stonechats subspecies maura or stejnegeri were noted at Strumble Head on 12 October 1986 (G.H. Rees et al.) and at Skokholm from 11 to 15 October 1990 and 20 October 1992.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

DONOVAN,J.W. 1963. Bird notes. Nature in Wales 8:205.

More about the Stonechat in Pembrokeshire

Stonechat – 1980s winter

Saxicola torquata – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident

The BTO winter atlas showed that Stonechats were present in all coastal 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84.

The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 5 birds seen in a day.

Winter distribution was a little less widespread than in the breeding season indicating a withdrawal from most inland squares. 

Data collected by volunteers for the BTO. Lack, P. 1986 Atlas of wintering birds in Britain and Ireland. T & A.D. Poyser.

More about the Stonechat in Pembrokeshire

British Stonechat – 1949

Saxicola torqata hibernans

Common resident on all rough furze commons and escarpments, moving towards coast in cold weather.  Sometimes breeds on the islands, to which it is a regular winter visitor.  Numbers much reduced in hard weather and almost wiped out by snow and frost early in 1947.

R.M.Lockley, G.C.S.Ingram, H.M.Salmon, 1949, The Birds of Pembrokeshire, The West Wales Field Society

More about the Stonechat in Pembrokeshire

Stonechat – 1894

Saxicola rubicola – A common resident.

This pretty little species is so numerous, to be seen everywhere, by the roadside, perched on the furze on every common, on the coast as well as far inland, that it is well entitled to be considered one of our characteristic county birds. Mr. Dix states that it is to be found ” particularly on the hill-sides which are covered with furze : they are generally to be seen in pairs, and, like the Hedge-Sparrow, in close company.

During the severe weather last February three pairs were in constant attendance upon some men who were moving earth from an old bank: they perched upon some bushes near by, watching for anything that might turn up in the shape of food, when down they came within a foot of the tools; they kept close watch, for several times I saw three or four fly down at the same moment, and so intent were they in their search that one was caught by a hat being placed over it, the man thinking I wished to have it.”

We have found the nest frequently in our fields round Stone Hall, a commonly chosen site being a small furze-bush in which it would be placed close to the ground. However severe the weather we do not believe that these little birds go very far away from the spot where they were bred.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Stonechat in Pembrokeshire

Stonechat

Saxicola torquata – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident

Siberian/Steynegeri Stonechat – records

Saxicola maurus/stejnegeri – Clochdar y Cerrig Siberia – Very rare vagrant Stejneger’s stonechat was generally considered a subspecies of either common stonechat (as Saxicola torquatus stejnegeri) or Siberian stonechat (as Saxicola maurus stejnegeri), but recent genetic evidence has shown that it is distinct, and so it is now accepted as a distinct species. 1986 – […]

Stonechat – 2003-07 breeding

Saxicola rubicola – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 71 96 Breeding probable 24 58 Breeding possible 31 13 No of tetrads occupied 126 (of 478) 167 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 26.4% 34.1% The perky male Stonechat with its black head, ruddy breast and “tack–tack” call, […]

Stonechat – 1994

Saxicola torquata – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 71 Breeding probable 24 Breeding possible 31 No of tetrads occupied 126 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 26.4% Mathew (1894) said “this little species is so numerous, to be seen everywhere by the roadside, perched on the furze on every common, on the […]

Stonechat – 1980s winter

Saxicola torquata – CLOCHDAR Y CERRIG – Breeding resident The BTO winter atlas showed that Stonechats were present in all coastal 10km squares during the winters of 1981-82, 1982-82 and 1983-84. The darker the colour, the higher the relative total count for each 10km square.  The darkest blue represents over 5 birds seen in a day. Winter […]

Stonechat – 1894

Saxicola rubicola – A common resident. This pretty little species is so numerous, to be seen everywhere, by the roadside, perched on the furze on every common, on the coast as well as far inland, that it is well entitled to be considered one of our characteristic county birds. Mr. Dix states that it is to be found ” particularly […]