I spent an hour just after midday today at Bempton RSPB, E Yorks (along with a good few others) admiring this beautiful bird. The second I have seen, the other being two or three years ago when we had one at Burniston just outside Scarborough.
My Readers Digest of British Birds (1st edition 1969, reproduced 2001) said there were 54 British records but only 8 before 1949. Things will have certainly moved on since that print but I use this to illustrate how visits are possibly increasing by this species. Another Desert Wheatear is in Shropshire at present.
As with my first experience this bird was extremely confiding.
These birds breed in a narrow band through N Africa, locally in the middle east and more extensively in western central Asia.
They are rare but regular vagrants to Europe. We are getting annual reports now in north western Europe and they are usually seen around now, late autumn early winter time.
It is described as an active feeder using low bushes or perches to scan for insects. It certainly seem to be flying up and catching insects oblivious to the small group of birders when it landed on occasion quite closely.
Pat, my wife observed large numbers of ladybirds in the vegetation, I mean thousands, any coincidence?