The flashing of white gave it away. My first Wheatear of the year, newly arrived from its warmer African wintering climes. It flitted ahead, alighting on the stone wall, teasing me into thinking I might get just a bit closer before it became bored and took to feeding on the insects in the muck sprayed fields of Highcliffe Farm. Its distinctive white rump hints at the origins of its name, a derivation of “white” and “arse”. In French too cul blanc, cul being slang for this area of anatomy. The Gaelic though has a more lyrical name clacharan which also means stepping stone while in Spain the bird is known as collalba. Surprisingly this translates as a mallet which stretches the imagination somewhat for this diminutive bird.
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