I’ve walked miles – seriously, miles and miles and miles! – in the past ten days, trying to spot my first Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) of 2018. I was following up reported local sightings by my fellow birders – ‘Wheatear at Swanbridge/Sully Island this morning’, ‘Wheatear for 2nd day at Hayes Rd car park’, ‘Wheatear on Cardiff Bay barrage’ (two people saw that one on the same day – but did it show for me? Did it heck as like!), ‘Wheatear on the Barrage’ (4 days later), ‘Male wheatear Penarth Marina’ (my local patch and I couldn’t find that one despite three walks around about).
Then finally, on the 23rd, I got a fleeting glimpse of one (and a couple of fuzzy photos) just off Sully beach. And, just like the proverbial buses that don’t turn up at all and then all turn up together, I spotted another one on Cardiff Bay Barrage the very next day. That one’s the very handsome male in these photos.
Wheatears are just returning from having spent their winter in the tropical parts of Africa. The males arrive first, usually in March, followed not long afterwards by the females. We see them arriving along the south Wales coast for a few weeks, then they move inland to their breeding sites. Now, to keep an eye out for a female!