Friday 8 April 2011

The Garden Tick to end all Garden Ticks

Guess what flew over the garden today? Only a bloody Wheatear!! What an amazing garden tick! Surely the best ever, knocking those Waxwings from last year into a cocked hat. I had been out early, seen very little (a female Wheatear and a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in case you were wondering), and had returned to childcare duties. Sitting in the conservatory eating breakfast with the kids, I nearly choked on my toast as this Wheatear bombed past only about 15 feet up, heading across the gardens.

Regular readers will know I have a slight Wheatear fixation, but come on, this is stupendous! It was one of those blink and you'll miss it moments, and my brain only registered Wheatear once it was heading away, no time for bins, but the white rump and black tailband were there for all to see. Well, just me actually. The kids all face in and so missed it, whereas my seat faces strategically outwards...

I've been hoping for a garden Wheatear just about forever. No really. I've seen them on the Flats a mere 100 metres from my house, and often wondered if they flew over. I presumed they did, but at night. This was just before eight in the morning, where it was going (other than north with a tiny hint of west) I have no idea, but who cares. For some unknown reason it got up off the Flats and flew over my garden, and I was there to see it. Small pieces of toast and peanut were sprayed all over the table as I shrieked "Wheatear!" at my surprised offspring, who have often been told not to talk with their mouths full lest they scatter foot over a wide area. I jumped up, but it was too late, long gone.

I reckon Wheatear is a purdy darned good garden tick, the that fact that it is one of my favourite birds is neither here nor there. I refrained from telling you this, sensing that you had possibly had enough, but when I went out on the Flats the other day I saw seven Wheatears together. Seven! Happiness in avian form. I even managed a photo of five of them together, and now would seem like an opportune moment to wheel it out.

I've managed to use the word Wheatear ten times in this post.


  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Just found your excellent blog, a great read and super pics, will def visit again!!
    Feel free to take a pic at my blog,

  2. Yes, from far away this post looks like blah blah blah WHEATEAR blah blah blah WHEATEAR blah WHEATEAR blah blah WHEATEAR PHOTO WHEATEAR. But they are very attractive and delicate little birds, they make me envious.

  3. Wendy P. introduced me to your site last year. After 55 years birding, your personal tally leaves me green with envy but I know you put in the time, effort and travelling. If ever you are this way (Northamptonshire NN8) e.g. Ospreys/Rutland and would like company, let me know. Was as certain as could be that I heard a Nightjar 5.00am this morning in Stamford (Lincs). Roger - Wendy P's Father.