Last Monday while I was at work, my phone started buzzing each few minutes, so I decided to check what all the “fuzz” was about. When I looked at my phone I saw reports of a White-crowned wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga) and it was located in the area where I live. The White-crowned wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga) is a inhabitant of Northern Africa and can normally be found in the the deserts.
It has been the first time that this bird has been reported in The Netherlands, so I was anxious to go there. But… I still had about 1 hour to work.After work I quickly jumped on my bike, went home, grabbed my camera and jumped in the car to drive to the location where it had been reported. Once at location it wasn’t hard to spot the bird, since there were at least 100 other birders / photographers present. I quickly started to make a few photo’s, but since it was so crowded and the bird was on the roof of the buildings, the photo’s were all registrations.
After talking to some of the people living in the area, the bird had been there for a few days already, so it wasn’t likely to leave all the sudden. With this knowledge in mind I decided to leave it with the photo’s I had to go back another day later that week, with hopefully less people around.
Later that evening discussions had started on the internet whether the bird was wild or an escape, although there aren’t any evident signs of an escape yet.
On Thursday morning 8.00 I went back to look for the White-crowned wheatear and it didn’t take me long to find it, this time he was on the roof of a shed. Much lower then before so I was able to make some decent photo’s but the background wasn’t great, either bricks or windows. Whist photographing the bird he would occasionally fly up and land on a nearby roof to then land on an other spot as well. I kept following his movement closely and followed him when he flew out of sight.
After a while he made a short stop on a field of grass to forage, then he flew up onto a brick wall. I (and a few other photographers that had joined the scene) slowly moved in closer to be able to get a good photo. I was able to get two shot out, then he flew away and landed on top of the roof again. This time I decided to wait at the field of grass for his return. At this point more photographers joined in and we all had a nice chat whilst waiting. After about 2 hours the bird came back to forage at the field of grass again. This time I had taken position at the same wall he was on before and was able to chose a yellow / green background from bushes. I was in luck, the bird decided to land on the wall right in front of me at a distance of about 4-5 meter. I made several photo’s of different poses and slight variations in background, due to the bird was very active. After about a minute or two the bird flew to the roofs again and I decided to grab my gear and go home. I had made the photo’s I wanted and the chance to improve these images weren’t very likely, especially since is was getting more crowded.
All in all I’m very happy with the opportunities and photo’s I got from this rare bird in the Netherlands. Up until now it is still unclear if the bird was a escape or wild specimen.
More photo’s can be seen in the White-crowned wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga) gallery.