Friday, 17 April 2020

Lockdown Day 25 - Wheatears

I decided that today would be another cycle ride while the weather is fine, and having heard about a group of Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) near Colton not far from York, I decided that it was a good point to aim for and not too far from home. Although the sky was bright, and there were occasional glimpses of the sun, it was a lot colder than I expected and the wind was from the east. 


Wheatears (or sometimes known as Northern Wheatears) migrate from sub-Saharan Africa to our shores with many carrying on to Iceland and Greenland (O. leucorhoa, the "Greenland Wheatear), in fact some - on the way back - follow a path down through Canada, then flying over water to the Azores, a distance of over 2000 miles, before continuing down to Africa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northern_wheatear#Migration



I had seen online that a group of up to seven birds were in a field near the railway bridges in Colton and after a few minutes I was able to pick them out against the bare earth of the field. They are really quite well camouflaged!

Wheatears are possibly named after a corruption of the term "white-arse" referring to the bird's white rump!




Three individuals (all male) were in the field and they moved around quite a bit, although will stand quite erect looking around for danger. They eat insects from the ground or bushes or catching them in the air.





Another bird I saw on my cycle ride which I really don't see often is a Marsh Tit (Parus palastris) . These birds are really quite hard to tell apart visually from Willow Tits (P. p dresseri) but are distinguished by their call which is a repeated "pitchoo pitchoo" which is what the individual I saw in Bilborough was doing repeatedly as it hopped around a tree looking for food and claiming its territory. I also heard several Blackcap warblers (and saw one) and the chiffchaffs were being their usual repetitive selves as they claim their patches for summer.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marsh_tit

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