Belongs to: chats

Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe

Birds of Conservation Concern Amber List

Best time to see: Mar to mid Oct

Key facts

Elegant, upright bird (and nothing to do with wheat: its name is a bowdlerised version of its original name 'white-arse')

Habitat: open country, in Essex coastal areas and derelict wasteland; on the edge of its range in Essex

Uncommon summer visitor, breeding sporadically


Black wings, white rump and outer tail; m with grey crown and back and black mask, f more grey-brown; 14–16 cm

Perches openly low down on a rock or post, darting after food and often bobbing

Feeds mainly on insects, some spiders and snails


Untidy nest of grass or moss in rock crevice or in rough grass

1 or 2 broods April to May

5–6 pale blue eggs

  • Main photo
  • female

Photo © Bill Varney

Photo © Gerald Downey