Lapwing, dipper, swallow, robin, curlew…
I've never drawn up a list of my top ten birds, but wheatears would very likely be on it.
They're such smart creatures. Smart as in neat and well-groomed, I mean; I can't comment on their intelligence. And it's always a real treat to see one, because you're usually on a nice walk somewhere in the hills or near the coast, kind of hoping you might spot the white flash of a wheatear's rump.
I remember my first wheatear. I was a young boy. My parents had taken my sister and me for a walk near the seashore at Thurstaston on the Wirral. My mum, who was entirely responsible for my love of the natural world, pointed out the elegant bird on a nearby fence-post, explaining that it was called a wheatear because of the light stripe running above its eye and behind its ear. The stripe, she explained, was supposed to look like an ear of wheat. It's a lovely reason for a lovely name.
It's also total bollocks.
Years later, I found out where wheatears really got their name. It was on account of their distinctive white rumps: wheat-ears is apparently a corruption of white-arse!
I told my mum, of course. She claimed to be shocked, but I could tell she was secretly delighted.