Like a lot of people I find daily time with nature beneficial to my mental wellbeing. Today I was at work for eleven hours as we had a board meeting this evening, but with the clocks going forward it was still light when I left at seven. I decided to nip to the nearest place with something to see, North Shore. As I parked a Kestrel flew over down Carlin Gate, always a good sighting so close to the town centre.
The tide was just beginning to ebb when I got down to the water’s edge. Some of the smaller waders were still roosting on the go kart track perimeter. Others had begun to cling to the sheer wall below to start feeding. In the picture below you can see both, the lower group of birds are mostly Turnstone but there is a single Purple Sandpiper.
A scan of the grass banks of the cliffs for migrant birds was initially unsuccessful, but just as the light was in the early stages of fading and I was heading back up to the car a Wheatear flew past. A male, you can just about see it dead centre adjacent to the puddle below.
As this picture is so grim here’s one of a first summer male I took almost two years ago to the day, at Roa Island on 1 April 2021. Passage stretches two months or more from early March well into May as birds return from Africa, some still en route to points north including Greenland.
If anything today’s bird as a full spring male was smarter than this. But even without a view of the ‘white arse’ that gives the species its name it should be obvious why the first Wheatear of the year is always a special moment for a birder.
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