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Very few scientific species names roll off the tongue – most are more inclined to be tongue twisters – but the Stonechat has a name I find much easier to say and remember. Saxicola means rock dweller (from the Latin saxum, meaning ‘rock’, and cola from incola, meaning ‘dwelling in’) and rubicola means bramble dweller, so we have a small bird that lives amongst rocks and brambles.

181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (1)181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (6)

In fact, most of the Stonechats I see seem to prefer tall shrubs or hedgerows or wildflowers: at Cosmeston Lakes Country Park, where there have been good numbers of Stonechats in recent weeks, some perch on the tallest branches in the hedges, and many seem to prefer sitting atop and hunting for insects beneath the tall umbellifer flower-heads that grow in the northern end of the west paddock.

181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (2)181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (5)

This time last year, that paddock was mowed and I assume that mowing will be scheduled to happen again soon, so I’ve been making an effort to see this year’s Stonechats as often as I can before they get forced to move elsewhere.

181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (3)181016 Stonechats Cosmeston (4)