April 17th   Leave a comment

There was a Greenland (or Iceland) northern wheatear on the new asparagus field at Balcomie today. Greenland wheatears are bigger and more colourful than European wheatears. Greenland wheatears have the longest single migration flight of any wheatear, crossing the Atlantic from the UK to get to Greenland. They obviously have to do it in a single flight. Wheatears are superlative. Even though some breed in North America in Canada and Alaska, they all winter in Africa. The Alaskan birds go right across Asia to get there (tens of thousands of miles…) and the Canadian ones cross the Atlantic, via Greenland and Europe. The wheatear today may have been in Mali only 12 days ago enjoying temperatures of 45 degrees at the edge of the Sahara, and in another 12 days may be enjoying the snow melting on the Arctic tundra. A truly great, globe trotting bird. There were other migrants today, but strangely mostly the letter W – the wheatear, then whimbrels and white wagtails at Balcomie, and then willow warblers at Kilminning. I must have missed the whinchat.

A young male Greenland or Iceland wheatear heading back to where it was born last year after a winter in the Sahel

Posted April 17, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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