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Stonechats by Graham Catley

Stonechats in Lincolnshire autumn 2001

It has become apparent that an exceptional passage of Stonechats occurred in the county during the 2001 autumn with probably record numbers staying on to winter. The recent very cold weather at the end of December and in early January 2002 appears to have reduced the number of wintering birds at many sites; whether these birds have moved out in response to the cold weather or have succumbed is not known.

I have attempted to update the records that I have received to date splitting autumn and wintering birds into two phases, autumn being September-mid November and winter mid-November onwards. In some cases specific dates were not supplied and records for some areas such as Gibraltar Point are clearly incomplete. The following is therefore a region by region summary of known records. If anyone has additional records please forward them so that we can compile as full a summary as possible of this exceptional event.

Autumn 2001

First birds of the autumn occurred on the coast in the last week of September with 2 at Pyes Hall 22nd, 1 Saltfleet Haven 23rd, pair Saltfleetby 23rd with 1 Seaview Farm (Saltfleetby) 25th, one Donna Nook and 3 (2 males) Saltfleet Haven 26th. At this time a male also appeared inland at Garthorpe on the Trent on 30th. There appeared to be then a constant arrival of birds through early to mid-October. At Barton pits a male on 2nd was followed by 2 new males 11-13th and a further male 19th. A male at North Killingholme pits 6th with female on the Wolds at Saxby 12th when 2 males were at Gokewell near Appleby station. A series of records at Grimsby North Wall commenced on October 4th with 3 birds which were seen regularly to November 3rd. On the coast 6 were at Gibraltar Point October 6th and 4 at Seaview 28th.

Wintering birds

Humber shore—Trent to Tetney
Garthorpe male November 3rd with pair from 11th to December 7th
Winteringham Haven female November 10-11th
Barton pits a pair first noted on October 23rd were seen to mid-December only.
Goxhill Skitter-East Halton Skitter 3 (2 males) November 2nd-26th with pair to January 8th
South Killingholme Haven pair December 5-18th
Immingham Docks-Pywipe 6 birds
Grimsby North Wall pair from October to early December
Cleethorpes Shore 1 November-December
Humberstone yacht club female November 6th
Tetney 1 November 25th-December 2nd


North Cotes to Gibraltar Point
Saltfleetby 4 (2 pairs) November 18th
Gibraltar Point 2 wintering
Freiston Shore male October 29th
Witham Mouth 3 December 1st


North of county

Ashbey Ville near Scunthorpe pair November
Laughton Forest-Blyton 6 November-December but only 2 January 8th
Risby Warren 4 birds November
Doddington Industrial estate 1 December
Nocton Fen male late December

South of county

River Welland, Spalding-Deeping St James 1 December 17th
Baston to Deeping bypass road pair December 4th
Caythorpe pair wintering
Marston Sewage Farm pair November and 3 in December
Keisby/Hawthorpe pair December
Mareham Lane at Silk Willoughby pair wintering
Baston Fen pair wintering
Gosberton 2 December

There has not been a breeding record of Stonechat in Lincolnshire since a pair of continental birds nested at Saltfleet in 1980. The species occurs in the county as double passage migrant in spring from mid February to early April and in autumn from September to November with a variable number over wintering. The species often occurs in pairs on passage as well as in winter and the attached photographs show a pair present at Barton on October 23rd 2001. There have already been at least 7 birds at Barton this autumn which suggests a good passage. I have also come across a female on a sugar beet field on the Wolds above Saxby and there have been inland birds at Searby Top and Kettleby.

How many others have been seen this autumn? My visits to the coast have produced a pair at Rimac September 23rd and 3 at Saltfleet Haven September 26th with one Anderby October 21st.

Photos by Graham Catley were taken with a Nikon Coolpix 880 and Svarowski AT80HG scope and Mike Tarrant. ( Also see Stonechat Computer Desktop Wallpaper)


Male Stonechat at Barton on October 23rd 2001 © Graham Catley


Female Stonechat at Barton on October 23rd 2001 © Graham Catley


Female Stonechat at Barton on October 23rd 2001 © Graham Catley


Male Stonechat at Barton on October 23rd 2001 © Graham Catley

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