Seasoned travellers

I’d caught occasional glimpses of the common stonechat in the couple of days we spent in Kaziranga, but on our last evening I caught it in good light not too far away. The Siberian stonechat (Saxicola maurus) is another name for the bird. It is not uncommon, but the light was good, and featured photo could well be the best image I have of the male. The female sat a little further off, also in good light. I had the time finally to get a good field view of the pair: the pattern of white on the wings, the little white tuft near the tail, the while band on the neck, the large peach coloured patch on the breast of the male. and the wide black “bridge” between the head and the back.

These little birds are hardly travelers, wintering in the plains below the Himalayas, and breeding in Russia. These birds reach Russia in May and early June. They start south within a couple of months, starting late July and through August. They probably see summer temperatures lower than 20 Celsius in Russia. When I took the photos, the temperature must have been over 30 Celsius. That’s not the only odd thing about their lifestyle. During migration they cover about 30 Kms each day, which means that they could well take over 100 days traveling each way! Do they really spend about two-thirds of their life traveling? That’s quite a hectic lifestyle.