Friday, April 6, 2012

The Needles & West High Down

On a crisp morning filled with early sunshine there can be no better place to walk than along the approach to The Needles and alongside the cliffs on West High Down. At the Needles Viewpoint the sea was a vivid blue and at least 13 Gannets flew west-to-east past the lighthouse.

Further along the cliff I found what I was hoping to see: Wheatears!

This was one of 3 that were seen - all males, feeding up ready for the next stage of their amazing migration from Central Africa and probably on to the western and northern parts of the UK. The Meadow Pipit that flies in to shot seems to be welcoming him to the Isle of Wight!

Recently, exciting research on the Wheatears breeding on the other side of the pond has proved just what amazing travellers they are. Fitted with data logger trackers, Wheatears in Alaska were shown to travel some 18,000 miles both ways between their summer and winter homes, the longest recorded migration for a songbird!

Probably the greatest surprise of the morning was the sight of two Lesser Whitethroats looking just like Spotted Flycatchers as they hunted for flies in the scrub next to the Alum Bay carpark!

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