Wednesday, 11 May 2016

An island of Wheatears

Wheatears are among my favourite British birds, but until my visit to Alderney, I'd seen relatively few this spring. I'm not sure if that's because passage has been slow because of the cool weather, or just that I haven't been in the right places at the right time. But anyway, Alderney more than made up for it. Longis Common regularly had 10 or more, including Greenland-race birds, while we kept coming across them elsewhere on the island.

Birders are always delighted to hear that the name has nothing to do with wheat, and actually comes from the Anglo-Saxon 'hvit oers', literally 'white arse'. They were nothing if not observant, those Anglo-Saxons, and they didn't like to mince their words.

There's more on Wheatears (and one individual Wheatear in particular) in my book, A Sky Full Of Birds, available now.


Caroline Gill said...

I haven't been to Alderney since I was about 7 years old! We occasionally see Wheatears at Minsmere and have often seen them on Skye. Your new book has been bought (but my husband paid for it and whisked it it away into the cupboard for Christmas ...).

Matt Merritt said...

Ah, I hope you enjoy it, Caroline! Until last year I lived in an area that was good for seeing Wheatears on passage, but they're a bit thinner on the ground where I am now.

I can recommend Alderney - lovely scenery, great birds, but all very relaxed.