Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Pugneys CP - Titching Blyth's Pipit

The timing of Yorkshires first ever Blyth's Pipit could not have been much worse. A site less than an hour away but when I found out on Monday it was already too late for me to get there before darkness. Tuesday was not much better with an Exam that I was woefully unprepared for. As a result the earliest I could do was Wednesday.
I was so relieved when the bird was reported on Tuesday evening, giving me hope that it may have stuck into the Wednesday. I headed across to be on site for a little after first light, hoping that the exact site where the bird was would be easy to find as birders would have already arrived.
Good thing I did, as I would have had no idea where the bird was if there were not birders already on site. There was a gathering of around 10 when I arrived and they reported that the bird was still there and had just dropped down. 
I waited about 10 mins before they decided to do the first flush. I had looked up the call the night before, and as soon as the bird took flight it gave the distinctive call. It was difficult to track though as it flew, as soon as you thought you had picked it up it  had carried on and you had lost it again. Fortunately we could see easily the area where it had landed, so we could go for it again.
We waited a short while before heading over that way, where we pushed it out again. This was the pattern for the whole morning, though it was not relentless flushing to avoid stressing the bird. 
We got some decent flight views but I was unable to get any decent record shots, so all the photos I got are of small black smudges in the sky with a ragged tail characteristic of this individual. I think I need to practice my flight shots so should I ever end on a twitch like this again. There were so many chances for better photos that I missed.
-Blyth's Pipit
Sadly besides the call I could not pick up on any diagnostic features which was a shame, but since all I got of the bird was it in flight that is not really a surprise. The individual itself had a ragged tail edge which was fairly characteristic of the bird, and helped to separate it from the 10 or so Meadow Pipits that were also on the field. As a consequence the bird was not difficult to track down whenever it did go up, but the conditions were a little bleak and the bird did not stay airborne for long, probably pushed down by the wind.
At one stage there were only 2 birders left, which is when I got my best views, but when I left a crowd of around 20 had assembled and deciding what to do. Apparently there were some complaints about the twitching style after I left, but the bird also landed out in the open on a willow tree, which was a bit of a bummer to have missed given I did not even get it on the ground.
Overall it was a very enjoyable morning, made better by the fact that the bird was still there. It was bitterly cold so I decided to leave, and I even made it back in time for my 1.00 lecture, so I even made it to all my lectures. Good work!

Species List: Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Blyth's Pipit, Common Snipe, Fieldfare, Magpie, Black-Headed Gull, Wigeon, Mallard, Coot, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Blackbird, Kestrel, Herring Gull, Feral Pigeon, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch,

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