Late autumn migrant

The autumn and the spring are the best times to be keeping a look out for migrants which, in the case of Cambridge, are often passing through on their way to a destination further north. The summer visitors such as swallow and swift are usually on their way to Africa by mid autumn, as the winter migrants such as fieldfare and redwing are beginning to arrive here to escape the freezing winters of Scandinavia.

A couple of years ago I saw a black redstart on Cambridge Science Park, which is a very rare sighting in this part of the world, at least for me. It was here for less than 24hr before heading further north and west. And this autumn my unusual sighting was a female wheatear:

Female wheatear (Oenenthe oenanthe, Dansk: stenpikker)

Wheatear are handsome birds and this one was the first one I’ve seen in the fields in Histon. I only had the one sighting, and as it was in the third week in October she wouldn’t have tarried as she wended her way back to overwinter in Africa.

Last year I saw a small group of wheatear in a field near Wicken Fen, this time it was in springtime so they were on their way north, including this beautiful male:

I think that as we head into December all the winter visitors that are coming this way may already be here, and I’ll hopefully be able to share pictures of other wanderers in the near future.

5 responses to “Late autumn migrant

  1. Lovely photos and it looks like WordPress have given us all snow for Christmas again ;). “Seriously WordPress…snow?! What about half of the world that are just about to head to the beach eh? ;)”

    • Thanks Fran, glad you like ’em. (Re snow, WP need to find a way of keeping it north of the equator).

      BTW are you really heading to the beach? That’s a distant memory now up here.

      • Nope, that was a fib. For the next 4 days it is going to be raining pretty much constantly but I just thought that I would perpetrate the myth that “all Aussies go to the beach in the summer” ;).

  2. We see quite a few wheatears by the coast in Devon, they are very beautiful birds. Last week we saw our first redwing. There have been quite a few reports of black redstarts recently but I havent seen one yet.

    • Hello Philip, thank you for sharing your bird observations, it’s good to hear first hand accounts of what is happening in other parts of the country. Are you still seeing wheatear or have they all migrated?

      I’ve been seeing fieldfare for some weeks now but I haven’t seen a confirmed redwing yet… and I’d give my eyeteeth to set eyes on another black redstart!

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