This is a chat found in grassland and youngest stages of plantations or open scrubland over much of Europe. It feeds on insects caught on the ground or from short flights from a low perch. It forms a species pair with the much more sedentary Stonechat and, as a migrant, breeds further North and at higher altitudes. It breeds less successfully and less rapidly than the Stonechat whose winter survival is much worse - because it does not migrate far enough to escape the cold.
All Whinchats winter in sub-Saharan Africa. The Whinchat is a smart tweedy bird with a white wing patch seen in flight on the inner wing and a much smaller one on the outer edge - and more at the base of the tail on the edges. Its underparts are pale orange and it has white moustachial and supercilliary - separated by a dark brown area. The crown is indistinctly striped light and dark brown from fore to aft. The usual contact call is a sharp 'Tuc' but much less mechanical than that of the Stonechat. The British and Irish population is probably declining and lies between 15,000 and 30,000 pairs.
A migrant chat with a prominent eyestripe.
Length 125 mm Closed wing 76 mm Weight 16 gms
A Bird On! Sketch by Chris Mead
Copyright © 1996 by Jacobi Jayne & Company and Chris Mead