Northern Wheatear number 1 - the morning bird on South Cape May Beach [photo by Cameron Rutt]
Northern Wheatear number 1 on the South Cape May Beach. Note the very different upperpart color, caused by different lighting conditions, compared with the picture above [photo by Mike Crewe].
Northern Wheatear number 2 - the afternoon bird in the state park, by the lighthouse. Northern Wheatears are notoriously difficult to age after the post-breeding/post juvenile molt and banders who have them in the hand generally rely purely on the color of the inside of the upper mandible (not too easy in the field!). However, in reality, first-winter birds tend to show much broader pale margins to the tertials and greater coverts and both these birds seemed likely to be first-winter birds [photo by Mike Crewe].
Typically, both of these birds appeared to be of the large, richly-colored race, leucorrhoa which is the form that breeds closest to us, in Greenland and Arctic Canada. Both birds were rather chunky, often pot-bellied in appearance and had rich, almost cinnamon washes to their chests.