Posts Tagged ‘Desert Wheatear


A Desert thirst for birds

Not a lot around locally at the moment other than a smattering of Dusky Warblers and this little chap.

Normally Desert Wheatears manage to turn up in the country at this time of the autumn. I’m lucky in that this little lad turned up not more than a few miles away down the coast. Tania and I spent a little time watching him on Sunday last. His range was vast and getting close to him was near impossible. I went back on Monday to see if I could get a better photo of him. He had settled down quite a bit since the previous day and was less flighty; favouring the sandy parts of a small cliff out of the wind where Sand Martins nest in the summer. Although this may have been because others had put down one or two mealworms. I say ‘may’ because I saw the bird pull one from the sand but on closer inspection of the area, when the bird wasn’t present, I couldn’t see any more.

I’m not keen on feeding birds (or other wildlife) away from bird tables for several reasons. Although there are arguments the other way too. However overall I’m against it.

The bird was an adult male. Normally they are washed out juvenile/female types. This is the first adult male I can remember seeing and he was quite a dapper individual. A real stonker. There are apparently several races within the species range of North Africa East to Mongolia. Although exactly where this individual is from, according to Shirihai ‘Birds of Israel’ p448, is indeterminable from plumage features visible in the field.


Desert for starters

The main course today was forsaken for dessert.

We set off to seek out a Bittern but were waylaid by Cart Gap’s Desert Wheatear. I always regard these as November birds; harbinger of winter. Not so this individual, more a forerunner of the new year. On the walk back along the sea wall a surprise Spoonbill flew south. Where had that been? where was it going? What a weird early January it’s shaping up to be. There were some reliables; a Black throated Diver along with a Red throated offshore; three species of swan in one field at Ingham gave Tania a good comparison and a field full of Redwings at Hickling put on a good show.

The work that has been ongoing at Hickling has formed a wonderful flood meadow, full to the brim with winter wildfowl. Perhaps the flood work was too good. The water around Bittern Hide made it unapproachable.

Nearby we searched out up to six Water Deer. For me, they are the most beautiful of our deer species. Small compact and elusive. As we watched the last animal of the day a ghost of a raptor flew over it and into the distance. A male Hen Harrier glowing in the dying light.



One of Two

One of the Wheatears in Norfolk this October was the Desert Wheatear. Occupying the same dunes as the Isabelline this female was the forerunner of a male at Cley. I always feel that Desert Wheatears are the closing curtain on the autumn migration period. Once these late  migrants arrive on our shores  it’s more or less the end of bird migration until next spring. However; … I have a feeling there may just be a sting in the tail this year.





Christmas Pudding

Did I say it was all over? Well it certainly isn’t. Winterton proved once again it can pull in the migrants with this beautiful male Desert Wheatear being found on the beach and dunes north of the car park on Friday evening. The second for Norfolk this autumn. I popped along to get acquainted with it on Saturday morning. What a little cracker.

Desert Wheatear


A Sweet Desert

Well, it wasn’t a North African dry arid semi-desert but Gorleston promenade was about as close as you can get to it in Norfolk. The Desert Wheatear that visited us mid November chose a mild Southerly wind to travel north and find favour among the grass verges and beaches of our seaside town.

Desert Wheatears are not super rare. They tend to turn up most years, but they always mark the end of migration for me. OK we’ll get the odd very late bird winging it’s way in but the arrival of a Desert Wheatear marks the beginning of the winter drought of migrants. Our only chance now of something pretty good is an unusual weather event. A harsh cold depression over Russia spurring movement from the continent perhaps or something riding on the back of a strong southerly mild wind.  Who knows? There may even be something special already lurking in Holkham Pines … waiting to be discovered.

2014 11 10 Desert Wheatear Gorleston Norfolk_Z5A1378 2014 11 10 Desert Wheatear Gorleston Norfolk_Z5A1491


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Mar 2023


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