Sunday, 9 November 2014

Another day in Kent...

It's going to be a long old winter with just gulling to keep me going. So with a 1st-winter Desert Wheatear just a short drive out of London on the Kent coast at Reculver, it was rude not to pay it a visit. Josh kindly gave me a lift for what is likely to be my passerine highlight of the autumn, trumping the current contender of Yellow-browed Warbler.
1st-winter male Desert Wheatear Reculver, Kent 9th November 2014
It seems to be the 2014 fashion of being rather harsh on these desert dwelling critters. What with all the long lenses shoved up their rear ends, there has inevitably been a little bit of overkill - the amount of photos on the web between this bird, and the other two (in Norfolk and Suffolk), is a little extreme. But, that said, chats are still pretty good looking, characterful birds that always have pleased the crowd. The way this bird sallied from its rocks was nice to see.
1st-winter male Desert Wheatear Reculver, Kent 9th November 2014
The Desert Wheatears we get here in late autumn - the harbingers of winter - are probably eastern birds from Kazakhstan/Central Asia (races atrogularis/deserti) as opposed to North Africa (race homochroa). And to add a bit of nostalgia to the occasion, it's 20 years since I first saw this species in Britain - on a dull November day, with my Dad, on wasteground by the side of a Morrison's in Blackpool.

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