Wheatears are very wary birds. They bounce away to the next perch as soon as you approach. Walking along a footpath or road will see them flutter a few fenceposts along again and again and again, until you wish they would just fly past you, so you could stop bothering them.
This male was doing the same as we walked into Emsworthy Mire, but through the magic of telephoto lenses I still managed to capture an image. Isn’t that granite and lichen fabulous?
The Northern Wheatear’s scientific name is Oenanthe oenanthe, which is another example of ‘so good they named it twice’. Oenanthe means the flower of the vine, from Ancient Greek oenos (οίνος) ‘wine’ and anthos (ανθός) ‘flower’. That’s probably a seasonal reference, because they return just as the grapevines are coming into flower.
Their Italian name is Culbianco, which means White Arse, and, before you think that’s vulgar, that’s the origin of the English name Wheatear, before it was made more polite.
It’s spent our winter in central Africa and it looking for a safe space to have a family. I wish it luck.