Breeding wheatear

26 July 2015 | Posted in Barry Yates , Rye Harbour , Birds
Breeding wheatear
young wheatear

We put great effort into protecting many rare and declining species on our nature reserves.

At Rye Harbour one group that we concentrate on is ground nesting birds and we do many things to help them: create and manage islands, build fences to try and keep fox and badger from eating the eggs and young, and we make artificial nests sites. It is always rewarding to see success from our efforts and this year has been good for most of our 40+ bird species that nest on the ground. The northern wheatear is a summer visitor, arriving back from Africa in March. Most don't stay in Sussex, but travel to their northern and upland breeding grounds. However, there is a small breeding population in the Romney Marshes Living Landscape and at Rye Harbour we are maintaining a small breeding population using clay pipes and electric fences.

This year six pairs have had good success and some have raised second broods... here is one that has raised three chicks. The first video shows a female with a small grasshopper waiting for the male to come out of the underground nest - this is a clay pipe that has the entrance reduced with mortar. The other two videos show the chicks being fed outside the nest entrance, but they still return to their nest when danger threatens or to keep out of bad weather. Hopefully, in a few weeks time these little fluffy birds will fly south for the winter and return to nest here next year. In the meantime they will need many more insects to build up their bodies...