Last Spring, I had a severe Meniere's flare up (degenerative inner ear condition) and was essentially confined to home or to within a 5 mile radius of home….for 3 months. I missed Spring migration! It's not surprising then that this year's sights and sounds are especially fresh and exhilarating. Every Wheatear is a bonus! And, when 23+ were reported on Ivinghoe Beacon on Wednesday, it seemed silly not to go and take a look. I didn't bother counting them. I just enjoyed them. I sat on the hillside, in the sunshine, and watched these pretty little travellers flitting and calling and even singing.
I'd never heard a Wheatear sing before. I'd heard the tongue-clicking "chack", which these guys also did but, in flight, and especially from a prominent perch on the hillside, one male in particular was singing.
The best, similar recording I can find on Xeno Canto is this one:
What made my day, though, was, as I sat in the warmth, that male (photographed above, in the messiest setting possible!), stood tall on his mound of earth, just a few metres from me, and sang his subsong. Quietly but determinedly as if he was unable to hold it in any longer. As he sang, he looked left and right and backwards and forwards, projecting the quiet, sure sound all around him. Having never seen or heard it before, it was pretty special.
A similar subsong recording from Xeno Canto
You can never see too many Wheatears!