Saturday, 30 April 2016

Queen of the Wheatears!

April is now practically consigned to history, and with it comes closure on the 4th ND&B Wheatear Trophy. This year's battle was a more sedate affair, with none of last year's dog fight at the end, which saw skullduggery and underhand tactics - most un-Oenanthe-like!

Our previous winners were:

2013 Gavin Haig (Devon)
With Gavin's return to blogging this year, hopes were high that our very first winner would make an assault on the trophy, especially since he has adopted some prime birding real estate on the Dorset coast. But where was he? He posted absolutely no white-arse images at all!

2014 Martin Casemore (Kent)
When you live at Dungeness, and possess an enormous lens (steady now...), there can be no excuse for not having a go at reclaiming the trophy. Although he started with good, early intent, the pressure must have become too much, as he disappeared to Morocco for ten days at the end of April!! Despite this, he managed a creditable seven white-arses.

2015 Jono Lethbridge (Essex)
The man who is more Wheatear than human saw off the devious methods of Surrey's Peter Alfrey to lift the trophy last year, when he posted a record breaking 33 images. But Jono is a man consumed by short breaks away from Blighty and his mind was clearly not on defending his title. Some say he's burnt out, others that he has become complacent. Whatever the reason, he managed a white-arse count of six for 2016.

So, who are the winners?

Earliest posting
This was shared by two Dungeness shingle-botherers, who posted an image on their blogs during the evening of March 25th. Step forward Martin Casemore and Paul Trodd. They both win a pair of DBO-themed thongs, which they will be all too willing to model during the first good day of Pomarine Skua passage this May, most probably outside of the sea watch hide. Hope the weather's not too cold gents...

Best photograph

Lucy @ A Natural Interlude wins, with this portrait of a female doing what Wheatears do best - perching on a post. The smooth green background helps to define this favourite species of us birders.

The big one... so far we have seen the trophy go to Devon, Kent and Essex. And now, not only do we have our first winner from Hertfordshire, but also our first female winner! Step forward

Lucy @ A Natural Interlude

who posted a final total of 18 White-arses!

As is the way of award ceremonies, Lucy was unavailable to collect her award, as she was busy putting together another fine post on her blog, which can be visited by clicking here. But my people are in touch with her people, and the presentation of the trophy will be taking place on the summit of Ivinghoe Beacon at dawn tomorrow, with traditional maypole dancing and cider drinking laid on for the expected crowds. She will also receive a commemorative 'White Arse' gold medal, which Sir Steven Redgrave has recently said is worth far more than "all of his Olympic gold medals put together..."

This is the last year of the competition. Good things come to an end, and this one has run on for probably too many years already. My thanks to all of those fine bloggers who have made us happier naturalists with the posting of images of one of our finest migrants. Keep 'em coming...


  1. I havent seen one on my patch yet :(

  2. I might just start the "ND&B Barred Warbler in the back garden challenge' just for you Stewart!

  3. Steve, I`m chuffed and honoured to be mentioned in such esteemed company. I shall wear my DBO thong with pride, now all we need is that Pom passage...

    1. Thanks Paul. I'm assuming that you need XXL....

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    1. Lucy, that did make me laugh! I was delighted that my old adopted county of Hertfordshire (1962-1971 Tring) had provided the winner! And I'm so pleased that Sir Steve was present at the awards ceremony, as he has a reputation for making his excuses at the last minute. Wear the medal with pride, and if I see it on e-Bay later this month I'll know that you did indeed drink too much cider...

  5. Aagh, the one weekend of the year I’m not glued to the PC and I nearly miss my finest hour!
    As a rank outsider, for whom success is a complete fluke and the mere sniff of cider a gateway to the worst kind of disinhibited cavorting ever seen at a SSSI blessed with a maypole….a heartfelt thanks to you, Mr Gale. It is quite possible that the ND&B White Arse gold medal of 2016 is the pinnacle of my blogging career, if not my life. It’s downhill all the way from here…
    As a side note, Sir Steve was a complete gent and although I was barely awake and slightly tipsy at 5:30 this morning, he was most consoling when I suggested that I was never going to top Mr Lethbridge acceptance speech of 2015 ( Sir Steve advised I shut up and resort to interpretive dance…and so I did. DVDs available on request.

  6. Sorry Steve, I've complete messed up your reply/post now!

  7. There will a few more exotic white arses on the blog when i've managed to edit them all Steve!

    1. I'm looking forward to The Road to Morocco with The Three Muskateer's Martin!