The chat mystery
Another lockdown walk from home saw me scouring the fields, copses and downland across Epsom and Walton. Yet again it was underwhelming. Very few birds seem to be wintering here, certainly not the expected numbers of finches and thrushes during the winter months. Even the Skylarks, which numbered 125+ only last week, have dwindled away. So, thank goodness for Stonechats! One of my favourite species at any time of the year, but when you have them performing on a grey and dreary morning, when there appears to be little else on offer, they become even more special.
Last Sunday I had found a pair, lurking with the sheep, down in a fold in the hills on the border of Epsom and Walton Downs. Two days ago they had enticed another male to join them. This morning, all three were still present and correct. Or were they? On looking closely at the female, I could see that it was ringed - the female that I had watched earlier in the week had not been. So, either this is a new bird (and the other has moved on or was lurking out of sight), or in the past couple of days somebody had trapped the bird for the purpose of ringing. The fact that one of the males is already ringed possibly points to local trapping, although this is pure conjecture. I'm now itching to find out the story behind these ringed birds.