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Whinchat

Saxicola rubetra

Caislín aitinn

Status: Widespread summer visitor from April to September to uplands and scrubland throughout Ireland. Scarce passage in spring and autumn mainly to eastern and southern coasts.

Conservation Concern
: Amber-listed in Ireland due to a decline in the breeding population. The European population is currently assessed as Secure.

Identification
: The same size as Robin and Stonechat and broadly resembles the latter species. Frequently uses exposed perches like Stonechat. In all plumages has a grey-brown rump, with a broad black stripe  at the base of the tail. The white base to the tail is not obvious. Adult males have a dark head with a broad white supercilium. The back is streaked brown and black. The underparts (throat and breast) are a rich orange-buff. In flight, shows two large white patches on the wing. Adult females are similar to adult male Whinchats, but have a buffy-brown head and beige supercilium. The underparts also tend top be less extensively orange. Juveniles resemble adult females, but have some dark spotting on the breast.

Similar Species: Stonechat

Call: A soft "yu-tek-tek". Sings mainly at night and so infrequently heard. A distinctive series of whistled notes and rasping sounds, intermixed with mimicked calls and songs of other bird species.

Diet: Insects and other invertebrates.

Breeding: Breeds in a wide variety of habitats, including insect-rich meadows and bracken-covered slopes in uplands. The Irish breeding population has been decling in the last few years.

Wintering
:  Winters in tropical Africa.

Where to See: Coronation Plantation in County Wicklow and the Shannon Callows near Banagher are good areas to see Whinchat in Ireland.

Monitored by: Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack.

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