Saturday 27 April 2013

Wheatear Hunting at Cotham Flash

Slightly belated post, as I have had a ton of writing to ctch up on.

Two tea times ago, 25/04/13, intrigued by all the reports of interesting sightings in the horse paddocks at Cotham Flash, I headed off on my bicycle to re-acquaint myself with the yellow wagtails I had seen out running a few days before, and hopefully to see a Wheatear.

(Picture courtesty of Aviceda, wikimedia)

As you can see, the wheatear is an palely beautiful member of the flycatcher family, a summer migrant to UK shores from sub saharan Africa. It likes open country, and the only time I;ve ever seen them before I was about 8 years old, my mother pregnant with my sister and thus on an entirely logical camping trip to Derbyshire. I loved the visit, we walked miles around the hills near Monyash with a birdwatching family friend, and I remember being shown wheatears in binoculars, and marvelling at these pretty birds hopping about on the uplands in the middle of nowhere.

I've never seen a Wheatear since, and I've never been on a camping'n'walking holiday either. So I figured it would be fun to see them on the Flash paddocks as I'd seen reported, but, sadly, I missed them.

I did see 4-5 yellow wagtails once again, occasionally being rather agressively chased by the pied wagtails, and a rather long way off. occasionally popping into view beyond the fence, lapwings were making a heck of a racket towards the wetland, and sand martins were busy feeding in numbers over the pond on the other side of the road.

I decided to move further down to the wetlands to listen to the quacking in the distance, and to watch what I think must have been a tawny owl quartering the scrubby wasteground on the other side of the tip road, large, patterned brown wings, and a pale underside.

Of course, I got hime to find reports of twenty yellow wagtails and several wheatears being in that paddock. But I'm not disappointed. I will just be patient, and hopefully one sunny day, there they will be.

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