British wildlife recordings
Oenanthe oenanthe : Northern Wheatear - Turdidae
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Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire: OS Grid Reference(173500,204500)
Wheatear, Oenanthe oenanthe
The song of the male wheatear recorded on Skokholm Island, Pembrokeshire. The Anglo-Saxon origin of the title "Wheatear" is believed to mean "White Arse" and refers to the conspicuous white rump displayed in the bird's flight. The adult male of this handsome, small thrush possesses blue-grey upperparts, black wings and cream coloured underparts. It has a long, broad eye-stripe and an inverted black "T" shape at the base of its white tail. The female displays brown upperparts and lacks the long eye-patch although its tail is similar. The Wheatear appears in Britain each year during March, being one of our earliest summer visitors. The clear "wee-chat-chat" call is often heard in upland areas, where the bird is usually found. It can be seen to move jerkily along the ground, wagging and fanning its tail on occasion. Here it searches for such morsels as insects, snails, slugs, centipedes and spiders. At times it may rise vertically into the air to snatch a mid-air snack. Nests are usually at ground level and can be found under stones and in wall crevices. The hen incubates up to eight eggs, which hatch after two weeks. The young are fed by both parents and leave the nest when they are fifteen days old. The future status of this species is uncertain, although there may be possible threats due to loss of grassland habitats.