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Desert Wheatear

Oenanthe deserti
On Wednesday 11th December 2013 I stopped at New Passage on the way home from work where I bumped into 3 visiting bird watchers from Worcestershire. While asking them what they had seen they mentioned they had been told about a Wheatear at Severn Beach and indeed they had looked for and seen a Wheatear for a split second on the rocks there just as if flitted away. They could not relocate it despite a thorough search.

I quickly drove to Severn Beach hoping/suspecting because of the date, the possibility of the Wheatear being something rarer than a very late Northern bird. I spent 5 minutes searching the lower sea wall and boulders near the Burger Bar ramp to no avail and was just about to leave when there, perched on the low railings, 10 metres in front of me was a striking pale sand/buff coloured bird with a black face and wings, black tail and white rump. I was certain that this was a male Desert Wheatear.

I watched the bird hop away from some dog walkers, run fast along the tarmac and concrete path, stopping occasionally to find food. I quickly took some pictures aware of the fact that light was fading and I needed to record the event. I alerted others via Twitter at about 3.10 pm and amazingly at least 10 people managed to arrive before the light failed an hour and 20 minutes later.

The bird remained on or near the sea wall and on the shingle beach for another 3 days allowing very close views and attracted several hundred visitors.

Below are a selection of pictures taken during it’s stay.......
   Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach taken within minutes of finding it
 Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach taken within minutes of finding it
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Rod Holbrook
  Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach showing well on the last day
   Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Andy Jordan
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Vic Savery
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Allan Chard
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © John Martin
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Rod Holbrook
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Gary Thoburn
      Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach © Gary Thoburn