Hello, I saw an unusual bird yesterday (31.12.2009) in our back garden, which backs onto pasture land.
I saw the bird for around 30 seconds from a distance of about 2 metres.
The bird was a little larger than a Robin, and the same overall plumpish shape. It had a sharp shortish dark, flycatcher like, beak. The head, wings and back were grayish brown, a little like a female house sparrow but less mottled. The breast was a rosy beige, slightly streaked, with a very distinct transition to the head colour around the neck. It was perched on a bush, and was flying to and from the front or an arbour in our garden, seemingly taking grubs or small insects while on the wing. It's tail appeared dark/black and seemed to have a faint white edge. The tail was being constantly flicked upwards. The head also appeared to have a dark/black mask around the eyes, a little like a wheatear's but with no distinct margin against the overall head colour.
The only illustration I have found that is anything like it is of a male Common Redstart in non-breeding plumage, but (a) I didn't observe any red under the tail, and (b) the Common Redstart is a summer visitor to the UK. However, the size shape and behavior are very like a Black Redstart I saw in the garden a couple of years ago.
Could you help with identification please? Also are there any reports of Common Redstarts overwintering in the southern UK in recent years?