The Stonechat. These lovely little characters are an excellent bird for observing and photographing. They are a brilliant little bird to look for because where ever they are, you will find them perched on top of little trees, bushes, gorse, brambles or heather on heath lands or coastal areas. They are such colourful birds especially the mail like the one in the photo above, the female is less bold in colours and will keep out of sight somewhere close to the male but usually lower down. Where I often see them is on the coastal areas at Minsmere or not far away at Dunwich heath just up the coast. The Stonechat likes to sit up high and observe what passes by and this particular male stonechat above is what I call my little friend at Minsmere and I can quite often just walk up to it carefully without it flying away. Over the year I am a regular visitor to the area and I know eventually the bird gets used to me being there and if I just stand still long enough and be patient, it will accept me as no threat. With this patient and softly approach to this stonechat, it has paid off reulting in getting some fantastic photos. One of my most pleasurable moments I experienced with this bird was when it was so close I could hear it gently starting to sing to me with a sweet melody that was so soothing to the soul, I did not even attempt to take a photo, but listend for some time and was not aware of the world around me.
Here are a few variations of the Stonechat plumage. Top line, all three males. Bottom line, left a female, centre a male, right another female. Depending on the species and location in europe some of these stonechats migrate to britain, and you have the permanent population that are with us the year round. This results in variouse colour patterns and changes through the seasons that can be found in the birds plumage. I have found stonechats with nearly all brown markings and others with a varied colouring pattern especially in the males. The females tend to stay very much the same colour and the variations are minimal as seen in the bottom line left and right photo.
This photo is of a juvenile stonechat. In this photo its hard to see if it is, a female or male. What is striking about the plumage is the simular colours to the male and female, but if you look carefully I would say its a female by the head markings, but to be honest I am not sure if its either. Maybe someone might be able to put that question to rest with a defined answer in the comments box below.