I know I am almost a month behind most other serious Devon birders and even others from further field as well, this bird has been thriving here for well over a month now and it is obviously doing really well. I have a gallery of Devon birds and this is a new species for that gallery which now totals 220 so I really had to go and get some photographs of it and today and with bright sunshine it seemed perfect. The plus side was that the novelty of the bird has almost subsided and when I arrived I pretty much had both the beach and the bird to myself. To be honest, I am not too fond of chasing after birds when I am one of a crowd so this was perfect for me....a rare bird - a lifer in fact - and I had it all to my self for most of my visit. Fabulous! The day was cold but very clear with bright perfect light and sunshine throughout. I walked to the beach expecting to find it hard to find the bird but I was wrong. It was as if the bird was sat waiting for me and seemed to be enjoying it's perch on a boulder in full sun as much as I enjoyed the spectacle. I immediately got some photographs and could have turned back to the car there and then - so perfect was the light and the pose - I was thinking that I couldn't possibly get better. In the end I stood waiting for it to do the circuit that it was obviously following and waited for it to fly to the boulders in front of me where I was hopeful of a good flight shot. Suddenly my wait paid off, it landed in front of me and then I was ready when it flew to the next boulder and I got a nice in flight shot. I spent a very pleasant hour or so chatting to a really nice guy who had travelled the world as much as me and we swapped stories about sea birds in the Southern Oceans and other places that we had both been fortunate enough to visit.
Desert Wheatears breed in the Sahara and also in the Deserts of Central Asia, all very harsh environments. They are migratory of course and this one should be with the rest of it's species in warmer more southern climes. It obviously got lost on it's Autumnal travels and finished up here in Devon where the beach and rocks are not all that different from the habitat that it left behind. What with rotting seaweed and warm rock cliff sides where insects are active, this is quite a warm and comfortable environment in which to over winter. It certainly was very active and finding lots of insects to feed on and also enjoying the free offerings of mealworms that someone had provided. Even though the overnight temperatures were low last night, by midday it was almost too warm for the heavy clothes that I had worn to make sure I wasn't going to be too cold as I stood around taking pictures.