44. Stonechat

The stonechat (M: bucaqq tax-xitwa) is a tiny bird of open countryside. Despite its diminutive size, however, you're often made aware of the bird because it's very vocal and its call is easy to pick out. If you hear a bird going wss-CHAKK! wss-CHAKK! Look for high points around you - the tallest stone on a rubble wall, the top branch of a bush, a dry fennel stalk - and you may spot the caller. If it's a male (and if you have binoculars) you'll see the black head and rusty breast typical of this species. The stonechat is not a year-round resident in Malta but only spends the winter here, foraging for insects in open fields and meadows. Ghadira nature reserve also attracts many stonechats, and a weekend visit at this time of the year will guarantee a sighting.

Text by Victor Falzon
Photo by Denis Cachia

Copyright to Birdlife Malta.

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