Northern Wheatears at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits

I spent some time with the Northern Wheatears at Clifford Hill GP this weekend. They were feeding around the base of a small group of trees alongside Hardingstone Dyke, which runs the full length of the southern side of the main barrage lake. Although two had been present since 9th May, there were at least five, including one male. All appeared to be of the Greenland race leucorhoa but it is, of course, not possible to say with any significant degree of certainty. Comments within captions, below.

First-summer male Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone). Brownish wings with pale fringes to coverts, along with blotchy, not clean black, ear coverts age this individual. Rich orange throat and upper breast, plus orange/buff-suffused underparts, bulky appearance and upright stance when standing and feeding, strongly suggest Greenland race, leucorhoa.

Female Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone). Showing similar features to the male in terms of richness and extent of throat and colour of underparts. Upright stance and longish legs show well here.

Female Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone). Same individual as above. Note diffuse dark lores.

Female Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone). A different female, with sharply demarcated, solid black lores.

Female Northern Wheatear, Clifford Hill GP, 11th May 2019 (Mike Alibone). Same individual as above, with underparts strongly lit by sunlight. Very long primary projection is again a good pointer toward leucorhoa.

Ringing data from Leicestershire and Norfolk indicate the majority of migrant Northern Wheatears after 30th April are ‘Greenlanders’.

This entry was posted in Wheatears, Chats and Thrushes. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Northern Wheatears at Clifford Hill Gravel Pits

  1. Pingback: Rarity Round-up, 11th to 17th May 2019 | Northantsbirds

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