Wildlife

Welcome Wheatears!

Welcome back
Welcome back

Just hours after my first partridge egg, I not only found two others in the other pens, but also saw my first wheatear of 2013. It was blowing a gale up on the hill, and I had gone up for the afternoon to plant the last of the downy birch trees into a stand of fallen bracken. I caught sight of a single hen wheatear blowing like a leaf along the dyke top a hundred yards away, and I had to run over to make sure that my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. It was too wild for a photograph, so readers will have to make do with this picture of a cock bird that I took a couple of years ago.

Wheatears are the upland equivalent of swallows, and I always look forward to their return from East Africa with real excitement. They are almost three weeks late this year, but I’m sure they’ll soon catch up. I wonder what they are making of the snow, which still lies in deep stripes through the gateways.

As a personal challenge, I haven’t shaved since I saw the last wheatear at the start of October. The resultant growth may well look ridiculous, but it has kept me cosy over the winter. Now that spring is so obviously in the air, the “bic” razor is being brought out with an air of ceremony…

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