Rainfall radar U.K 22.30 6/9/10
Classic 'fall' conditions overnight grounded a record autumn count of 11 Wheatears on the patch this morning, as a band of heavy rain moved NE across the U.K combined with a strong SE wind off the continent, with the rain clearing around 23.30.
The first indication that Wheatears were arriving came with 2 seemingly moving quickly through the patch early a.m. At 07.30am a Wheatear flew low over the Top Footpath >SE, followed by another at 08.40am also flying through low >SW over the Top Footpath. This bird perched briefly on the roof of Grange Farm barns, before quickly disappearing.
At 10.50am 3 Wheatears had 'dropped out' into a ploughed field near Grange Farm, and another 2 Wheatear were seen along the track down to Wassell Grove Pools briefly at 11.35am. Finally another 4 Wheatear were in a ploughed field at the far end of the Top Footpath at 1.00pm. This field had been checked earlier and had held only a single Wheatear.
The clear impression i got was that birds that had been grounded overnight by the bad weather, had started to move as the weather front cleared during the morning bringing favourable conditions for onward migration. Some of these birds were then obviously 'dropping out' to feed in the first suitable habitat they flew over.
Most of the Wheatears seen in today's fall, appeared to show a darker rufous plumage than typical Northern Wheatear, but with the current weather pattern favouring drift migration from the East and the prevailing wind coming from the SE this would seemingly rule out these birds coming from the NW i.e Greenland and Iceland (leucorhoa). They could however be nominate Wheatear from Fenno-Scandinavia and Russia which can also show a darker rufous fresh plumage (similar to leucorhoa) in the autumn.
Wheatear Lutley Wedge 7/9/10
Wheatear Lutley Wedge 7/9/10 (one of today's more rufous examples)
Hobby Lutley Wedge 7/9/10
Common Whitethroat Lutley Wedge 7/9/10
Visible Migration/Migrant totals
1 Yellow Wagtail
1 Hobby (Hunting over Grange farm/Foxcote)
1 Sand Martin
120+ House Martin
2 Lesser Whitethroat
8 Common Whitethroat
1 Herring Gull >E
45 Black-headed Gull >(S/W)
12+ L.B.B Gull