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Black Redstart

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An occasional winter visitor to Dorset


Black Redstart: starting off back home

Post date: Monday, 3 March, 2014 - 00:00

As the spring equinox approaches we begin to anticipate the return to our shores of birds that left us the previous autumn to spend the winter in a warmer climate. By April that stream of migrant birds coming in off the sea each day is in full flow as they return for the breeding season. What we often forget is that there is an exodus from here going on at the same time as birds that came here for the winter return to their summer quarters. 

One such species that does just that is the black redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros) which will heads south east to central Europe, the opposite direction to many other species! The black redstart is very common in central and southern Europe where it is about as common as our robin. Originally a cliff dweller from the Alpine region they are now widespread around human habitation and even occur in large steel works and car production plants in Germany. In Dorset we usually get a half a dozen each winter, frequently at Durlston near Swanage and Nothe Fort in Weymouth but they have also been seen around the Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester and around B&Q in Poole.

I have to ask why they leave the beautiful county of Dorset to go a steel works in Germany for the summer? Not my preference I have to say!


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Black Redstart
Scientific Name Phoenicurus ochruros
Status Scarce
Interest Level
Species Family Chats
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Rocky cliffs and shores
Look for The unique dark grey/black colouration
Additional Identification Notes
  • The black redstart is very common in central Europe
  • Small numbers overwinter here in Dorset, usually on rocky cliffs but siometimes on tall buildings
  • Its dark grey colouring makes it almost unmistakable