Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

OTHER NAMES: Wheatear, European Wheatear, Common Wheatear
Latin Etymology: Oenanthe ("vine bloom" - for the time of year they appeared) oenanthe ("vine bloom")
Right: Adult male Northern Wheatear (subspecies O. o. oenanthe) near Keswick, Cumbria - April 2011
Right: Adult female Northern Wheatear (subspecies O. o. oenanthe) at Rainham Marshes, London - October 2010

Featured Subspecies: Oenananthe oenanthe oenanthe
Weight: 24g  /  Length: 14.5-16cm  /  Wingspan: 29cm
UK AMBER LIST / IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The wheatear is found mainly on upland habitat and as such, getting to such a habitat in the first place is the main concern. It is also a summer only migrant further limiting the chance of seeing them. I was lucky enough to catch this bird on passage at Rainham, where they frequently pass through in spring and autumn. Otherwise I've seen this species at Trevose Head, Gravesend, Hayeswater and Keswick - essentially anywhere that has fairly low ground cover of heather, grasses and gorse, and has prominent rocks for it to stand on. I haven't found this bird too hard to photograph when I have seen it, it seems to be a relatively bold species in general.  This is one of the few British species where 2 subspecies are present - the Greenland race passes through Britain on migration in addition to "O. o. oenanthe" being a breeding species here.

Related species:
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Oenanthe
Subspecies: O. o. leucorhoa, O. o. ernanthe, O. o. libanotica, O. i. seebohmi

- Sighting Locations -
UNITED KINGDOM - Locally common breeding Migrant (240,000 pairs - ssp. O. o. oenanthe) and rare passage migrant (ssp. leucorhoa)
 - Birds seen on passage at Rainham Marshes and Trevose Head. Also on breeding grounds at Keswick and Hayeswater.
SPAIN - Spanish - Collalba gris ("Grey Wheatear")
A common Summer migrant, common on passage.
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: Numerous in the countryside in April, a particularly showy individual at Arrocampo.

Further Notes:
 BirdForum OpusIUCN Red ListRSPBWikipedia, Xeno-canto


  1. what a cool idea for a blog...*G*
    Every bird?
    Very cool...

  2. I forgot:
    I mug every bird that sits on the tree in front of the window place where I paint.
    I have THREE!!! on my blog!