Pied Wheatear: Or is it?

A quiet evening in was disturbed when images emerged on twitter of a 1st winter male Pied Wheatear on the seawall of Meols, Cheshire! A first for the county and the first BBRC Wheatear sp. to occur on the Wirral peninsula following multiple Desert Wheatear in Lancashire and North Wales. Given it was a county tick I couldn’t afford to miss out on and I had my day off university, it was time to hit the road for another trip back home to nail this stonking bird…and to collect a Eurasian Woodcock which had been blown out the sky by fireworks the night previous.

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1st winter male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

One of the best aspects of twitching is for me the socialisation of it. Indeed it was brilliant to meet up with some of the Wirral gang and a few faces I hadn’t seen in a while such as Eddie Williams, Jeff Clarke, Steve Hinde, Allan Conlin, Rob & Fiona Bithell and Bardsey’s very own Steve Stansfield. But this bird, it was something else! From the images that had been posted on Dee Estuary Birding, the bird seemed to be showing well. But on arrival it was just simply ridiculous, at one point when I was catching up with S. Stansfield it flew towards and landed several inches away from it, close enough to to pick up yourself. It’s the best bird I’ve seen in the county this year. But it’s a shame to hear that as I’m writing this report a small group of photographers have placed down meal worms in order to get ‘the views they want’, when there is no need for it. It’s worth mentioning that during the five hours I was on site, not a single person brought out or even suggested the ideal of putting out artificial food.

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1st winter male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

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1st winter male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

On another note, it had been suggested by a few later on that this ‘Pied’ Wheatear, could infact be the much rarer ‘Eastern’ Black-eared Wheatear due to its boarder black tail band. But as much as I wish it was one, I’m afraid it’s not as the black tail band does fit within variation that is shown Pied populations and others features that are pro Pied include the black throat extending to the scaps and the base feathers to the mantle are black.

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1st winter male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

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1st winter male Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka)

Once the rain front hit it was time to call it a day and head back home to collect a Eurasian Woodcock that had been taken out by fireworks, before getting the train back up to Carlisle in preparation for a full day of Uni.

Thanks for reading,

E.

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