Thursday, March 27, 2014

Mostly Wheatears

After yesterday’s flurry of migration this morning seemed a much quieter affair, enlivened only by a number of Wheatears finding my traps and then a last gasp Peregrine. 

When I arrived at Lane Ends 2 Chiffchaffs were in song again, the Little Egrets were about the pool and a Jay scuttled through the trees. The forecast was for the easterly wind to pick up followed by rain later so I hurried to Pilling Water in the hope of Wheatears and other migrants. 

Tiny numbers of Meadow Pipits hung about the shore and the gullies, and unlike Wednesday no obvious movement north of pipits or much else. After a month or more without the shooting season the Pink-footed Geese become more tolerant by the day, with a flock today of 800 or more in a tight sandwich between the sea wall and Backsands Lane - an impossible sight until recently. 

Pilling Water held a single Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Redshank and 2 Little Egret. Carrion Crows gave noisy chase to something I assumed would be a Buzzard but when I looked more closely the larger bird proved to be a lone Raven. It’s bad enough having Carrion Crows decimate the local Lapwing population without rapacious Ravens joining in. It’s been shown quite recently that Ravens from their expanding populations on farmland use their high vantage point nests to target the eggs of ground nesting Lapwings. 


There didn’t seem to be many birds on Hi-Fly’s stubble, I’d see why later.

Wheatears were about the sea wall, a loose party of 7 or 8 birds moving along both flanks of the sea wall. It was a bit chilly and slightly windswept, not too good for making mealworms wriggle invitingly but I set a couple of traps with fingers crossed. Thirty minutes later I’d caught and ringed 5 Wheatears, 3 second year males, an adult female and a second year female. They must have been hungry from their journeys.

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

The remiges of a second year male are quite brown and worn, an adult male's would be much darker.

Northern Wheatear
Northern Wheatear - Second year female

Northern Wheatear - adult female

Every year at Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) time there are new and enquiring blog readers who perhaps haven’t read previous explanations about the origins of the name “Wheatear”. So here it is again, this time courtesy of Wiki.

"The name "wheatear" is not derived from "wheat" or any sense of "ear", but is a 16th-century linguistic corruption of "white" and "arse", referring to the prominent white rump found in most species of wheatear. 

Oenanthe is also the name of a plant genus, the water dropworts, and is derived from the Greek oenos (οίνος) "wine" and anthos (ανθός) "flower". In the case of the plant genus, it refers to the wine-like scent of the flowers. In the case of the wheatear, it refers to the Northern Wheatear's return to Greece in the spring just as the grapevines blossom". 

I checked the trees at Fluke Hall for little reward, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Siskin, 1 Stock Dove and 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker. It was time to call it a day (or a morning) with a last look on the still flooded maize where a number of Lapwings and Shelduck were all I could see. 

A brute of a Peregrine arrived and appeared to be hunting Lapwings, sending the lot into a frenzied panic as it stood briefly on the distant stubble. Within seconds the raptor lifted off and was gone. 


Time for me to leave too, but there’s always another day, another birding session on Another Bird Blog. 

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog


Dział Przyrody MŚO said...

Good pictures showing details of plumage. Please more of these photographs - we like these pictures.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

So interesting.. I like Wheatear.. :-))) Cheers!!!

The happy wanderer. said...

Thanks for the explanation re the Wheatears as I had wondered. Common names are sometimes intriguing, and more so in other parts of the world than here where European settlement is relatively short, and we haven't adopted many indigenous names.

Jen said...

Thanks for the explanation of it's name. Now it makes perfect sense.

Stuart Price said...

An interesting day Phil and I'm surprised ravens are expanding their range away from the uplands..............

eileeninmd said...

The Wheatear is gorgeous! And I love the Peregrine shot. Great post, thanks for sharing the info on the Wheatear. Happy Birding!

Margaret Adamson said...

Hi Phil Great informative post. Didn't know that about the Wheatear name. beautiful shots of the Raven and Wheatear and then a great flight shot of the Peregrine. Have a great weekend.

David Gascoigne said...

White arse huh? Methinks I may be a wheatear!

Mary Cromer said...

That Peregrine shot is awesome Phil. I wonder what those birds are thinking as they look at you all while you gently hold them...those eyes looking back at you, always make me wonder about that. They do not look concerned at all, like they know.
Phil quick question...are you able to view my post from last week?
Since switching to Google Chrome, things just seem weird and maybe it is my setting, or something, still working on it. I posted last week and again this morning. From the lagging comments, it just appears that the posts are not showing up, as published. Thank you~

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, just stopping back to say thanks for linking up with Saturday's Critters.. Have a great weekend. Happy Birding!

TexWisGirl said...

the wheatears are handsome little things! love that raven shot!

carol l mckenna said...

Always wonderful bird photography here ~ Happy Weekend to you ~ xoxo

artmusedog and carol

Karen said...

Terrific details of the Wheatear! The raven is a handsome bird.

Gunilla Bäck said...

Fantastic shots of the wheatears. It's interesting to see all the details.

Adam Jones said...

Great to see the Wheatear. Managed to see my first of the year this morning.

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