White Arse?

Both cock (right) and hen are well camouflaged against the rough pasture.

Wheatears have been on the Chayne for almost a month now, but only in the last few days have they become really conspicuous. Courtship songs and display flights have been the order of the day, and it’s been a great opportunity to get up close and personal with these cracking little birds. They have such an entertaining little “upright” posture as they stand and bob, and it was interesting  to watch one feeding in the short grass yesterday – he scuttled forward to pick up a piece of something or other, then scuttled on with all the stop-start gravity of a plover.

I’ve been told that wheatears were originally called “white-arses”, but the perceived vulgarity of the name was toned down into the more acceptable name we now know them by. I quite like the name “white-arse”. It’s the first thing you see when a wheatear flies away from you, and it’s certainly more accurate than any comparison to an ear of wheat. Then again, I suppose it does them a little injustice, since they are beautiful birds and perhaps deserve to be recognised by more than just the dazzling brightness of their arses.

Here’s hoping they’ll have a good breeding season.

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