Wildlife Watch: Rare stonechat spotting in County Kildare

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Council

Wildlife Watch: Rare stonechat spotting in County Kildare

The stonechat snapped in Kildare by Dermot McCormack

This week, a special thanks to Dermot McCormack who shared his sighting of the stonechat with us.

The stonechat (caislín cloch as Gaeilge) is a resident bird in Ireland. What is interesting about this sighting is the bird is more common around the coast, and considered rare in the midlands, but this particular bird was recorded in Lullymore recently.

It is difficult to tell from the image whether we are looking at a male or female. Both have distinctive white collars around their necks and orange-red-brown bellies.

However, the male has a black head and back feathers streaked brown-black, while the female’s head is brown and the back feathers are also brown. The adults are similar in size to the robin and they are regularly observed perching on exposed branches (as seen in this image).

They are omnivores, happily feeding on mini-beasts during the summer and in autumn enjoying the lush supply of berries/seeds available.

According to what I have read from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds about this bird, the stonechat gets its name as its loud call sounds like two stones being rubbed together. To be honest, I have never heard the bird’s call so cannot comment any further on this.

The stonechat builds its nest in gorse —I am presuming the prickly nature of this plant is used by the bird for protection. The nest is cup-shaped and built using a variety of materials including moss, hair, wool, grass and feathers.

Both the male and female are responsible for incubating the pale blue-green speckled eggs. The young hatch after two weeks, and a fortnight later they fledge. Both the short incubation period and time taken to fledge allows this bird to have between one and three clutches annually.

Many wild species do this as the possibility of their young reaching maturity is limited due to predation. The young are grey in colour with black streaks.

Again thanks to Dermot for sharing his record of the stonechat with us this week — will you be lucky enough to observe this bird in your local area?

If you would like help identifying or to learn more about a wildlife species, contact me via e-mail bogs@ipcc.ie.

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