Thetford Forest, on the Norfolk/Suffolk border has a variety of habitats of Special Scientific Importance including woodland and heathland, which supports some scarce bird species like Nightjar, Woodlark and Goshawk. A recent colonist to the forest has been the Stonechat, and Thetford Forest Ringing Group has been studying this species, monitoring its movements and demography since its arrival.
Stonechat started to breed about 7 or 8 years ago and increased to about 56 pairs. After the recent cold winters the number of pairs has decreased dramatically to about 20 pairs. Adults and chicks have been colour ringed as part of a Retrap Adults for Survival (RAS) project with the aim of finding out where they go during the winter and to monitor the dispersal of chicks.
Most of the birds move out of the forest in the winter, resulting in some interesting movements (blue pins) of birds to the milder coast. See map below.
We have just heard from Trevor Girling (North West Norfolk Ringing Group) that a colour ringed female Stonechat has been seen at Snettisham Country Park (green pin) on Thursday 24th March. This bird was ringed as a chick by John Secker (Thetford Forest Ringing Group) at Hockwold (red pin) on 07/06/2010 and amazingly Trevor was overseeing this bird being ringed!
View Stonechat Thetford Forest in a larger map
It looks like this bird has now set up home at Snettisham with an unringed male and its progress will be followed by the N W Norfolk Ringing Group. Stonechat don't usually travel very far but these sightings are providing vital information about their movements.