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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

20 July, 2016

Whinchat: on the wild side

Some migrant species are seen regularly in autumn as they pass through Dorset heading south for the winter but are less likely to be seen on the return journey in spring. The whinchat (Saxicola rubetra) is one of those birds that fall into this category. I think, in spring, these birds have a single driving force that keeps them on the wing until they reach their breeding grounds. On the return journey there is less pressure and they take their time and stop off to feed as they tackle the long journey ahead of them.
The whinchat is a relative of the stonechat and both like wild places to live but whilst the stonechat is quite common on the heaths and scrubby cliff tops of Dorset it is not wild enough for the whinchat that likes the upland moors further north. The stonechat does not migrate like the whinchat that will over winter in Africa. Although related and similar the whinchat has a more upright posture that the stonechat and so gives the impression of having a slimmer figure.
Whin is an alternative name for gorse and they certainly do like have a liking for gorse and scrub.
Whinchat: on the wild side