During the spring thousands and thousands of birds pass through Dorset as they return from the far south to their breeding grounds across the United Kingdom. Many go unseen, they do not stop as there is an urgency and a drive to get 'home'. The autumn is a little different, many stop off here for a final meal before setting off across the Channel on their long journey to their winter quarters.
One of the first to arrive in spring is the wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) and from mid-March and into April it is not unusual to find one along the coast of Dorset or on high ground across the county. The wheatear will not stay here though, it is a common bird in the uplands of Wales, northern England and throughout Scotland and it soon continues on its journey back home.
It is a distinctive bird in appearance, an upright stance and about the size of a startling but the most obvious feature is its white rear that cannot be missed when it is in flight and it is what probably gives it its name - white rear = wheatear!
It is often seen standing on rocks and boulders surveying the surrounding grassy areas for likely insects to eat.