The first time you see a stonechat you might be forgiven for thinking its a robin. A very posh robin. A very posh robin who's been asked to be head judge on Strictly. A very smart little bird.
They are resident throughout the UK and are generally more common on the moors and upland areas.
Males, like the picture above, have striking black heads with white around the side of their neck, orange-red breasts and a mottled brown back.
Females, as seen below, lack the male's black head, but have brown backs and an orange tinge to their chests.
They are frequently seen flicking their wings while perched, often on the tops of low bushes.
The bird gets its name from its call which has been likened to two stones being knocked together.
Stonechats are primarily insectivorous, feeding on caterpillars, moths, ants, spiders and flies, though they will also take worms and snails, and feed on seeds and berries in the autumn and winter.
They breed on heath, moors, grassland, and wasteland that have some dense shrubs, such as gorse, in which it can build a nest. The female constructs the cup-shaped nest from grass and moss, and then lines it with hair, wool, and feathers. The eggs are smooth, pale blue to greenish-blue and speckled with reddish-brown. They are incubated mostly by the female, but both birds look after the young when they hatch.
The male and female pictured here were photographed when we were on Angelsey in Wales, but last week Iwas lucky enough to spot a juvenile male on the moors above where I live. What a beautiful little bird.