Monday, December 12, 2011

With today's forecast looking like the best for a while we decided to head up to see the Newbiggin Desert Wheatear and the Chevington Greater Yellowlegs. We started at Newbiggin and couldn't find the way across the golf course. If you're heading here we found the best way to find the coast path was to use the track that runs to the right of the clubhouse. We arrived at Beacon Point but there weren't any birders about so we headed North. Rich picked the Wheatear up as it popped up to take a fly and landed on the top of a gully nearly half way to the power station. A few other birders soon turned up and great views were had by all. We then headed on for the Greater Legs but already the light was going and the scrap of news we had suggested that it had departed Bell's Farm where it had been yesterday and headed back to East Chevington. We don't know the area well and made the walk from Druridge Links. Great views of Short-eared Owls and five White-fronted Geese but it took a while to reach the site and then we didn't know where the first hide was mentioned on Birdguides. With not a birder in site we sacked it off for a pint, happy with great views of the Wheatear.

This smart first-winter male showed fantastically. This is a bird of dry, sandy heath and semi-desert but, although it seems very adaptable to different habitats over its wide range, they don't really frequent full blown deserts. They summer right along North Africa, eastwards through Asia to Central China. They overwinter in Africa from the Sahara to the Horn and in South-west Asia, with the more northerly populations generally moving further for the winter. They typically arrive to South and East Britain as a late autumn migrant with 120 records by the end of 2008 and 22 so far this year. Although very confiding, it was feeding well. The fly in front of it in the third photo was soon nailed. But the alula drooping on the left wing isn't right. (c) Richard Brown

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