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Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Whinchat

Hebrides bird sightings -  Whinchat


(Furze-hacker, Furze-chat, Furze-chuck, Gorse-chat)

Saxicola rubetra

Gaelic: Gocan

Photography © Andy L
Point - Isle of Lewis - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
19th August, 2008


  • Whinchat
  • Saxicola rubetra
  • Gaelic: Gocan
  • UK: 21,000 prs summer BTO
  • WI: Scarce migrant breeder (1-9 breeding pairs) in Lewis & Harris, scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year - mostly May)
  • Breeds: Woodland, upland areas, open rough pasture, uncultivated grassland. Nests in tussocks. Europe, Asia
  • Winters: Africa
  • Habitat: Open grassland, meadow
  • Diet: Hunts from perch. Insects, also some seeds. Berries
  • Robin-sized perching bird. Hops or runs on ground. Perches tops of low bushes. Both sexes warm orange-buff throat. Streaky brown above. White tail (black terminal band). Yellowish rump (above tail).
    Summer male dark cheek patches. Prominent white stripe above eye. White wing patches.
    Female pale brown head sides. Buff stripe above eye. No white wing patches.
  • Max recorded age 5yrs 2mths
  • Similar birds: Stonechat


Stonechats and Whinchats were both known as Furze-hacker, Furze-chat, Furze-chuck, and Gorse-chat (furze is another name for gorse). It is thought that loss of gorse habitat is the main reason that the whinchat now tends to breed in more upland areas


Whinchat records in the Western Isles

Scarce migrant breeder (1-9 breeding pairs) in Lewis & Harris, scarce passage visitor (very small numbers each year)

On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the Whinchat is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.

























(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)


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