Saturday, 10 October 2015

Bird of the week - Wheatear

This wheatear was on the beach at Newbiggin-by-the-Sea this week.  I think it is a first year bird and is on its way to Africa for its first winter.

Wheatears (Oenanthe oenanthe) are summer visitors to the UK and breed in moorland and upland areas.  BirdTrack data show they will all have left by the end of the month.  Some of the birds here now are en route from Greenland to Africa.

This map is from the Bird Atlas.

Wheatears are in decline across Europe and are on the amber list in the UK.

Wheatears were more abundant in the time of Thomas Bewick.  This is his engraving of an adult male wheatear, which he knew as a white-rump, published in A History of British Birds in 1797.

Bewick wrote of the wheatear:

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on wheatears here.  Watch the BTO video on wheatear identification here. Read about the northern wheatear's migration here.

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