Monday 17 December 2012

Showing well day part 2 - up the queen mum

Perhaps it's just me, but for some reason I seem to always remember where I was when I hear about mega rares. So back in the day, late September 1996 during a French lesson, the pager vibrated with news of an American Buff-bellied Pipit on St.Agnes. Proper sh*t the bed time for an enthusiastic teeny ticker and with there having only been one bird before, this was proper news and kicked off what is still rated by some as the best autumn ever. Roll on a week, and my ultra kind mother drove me all the way down to Penzance where I then travelled to Scilly for the day - kicking off with a Black-and-white Warbler on The Garrison before moving onto Tresco where, pride of place, there was Britain's second twitchable American Buff-bellied Pipit feeding in a bulb field on Tresco (the same bird having relocated from St.Agnes). A proper mega show!

Fast forward 16 years and, remarkably, I'd managed to evade all interim sightings in Britain and Ireland where this species has turned into an expected part of every autumn (and to some extent winter) due to increased identification awareness - not a surprise given how north and east rubescens breeds in North America, and also that pipits are hardy little birds too. Though I'd seen the species in the US just this summer and on Corvo last autumn (as well as japonicus in Kuwait too), the thought of one showing to literally less than a metre on the outskirts of London was too good to miss. Nice to also hear it call too.

American Buff-bellied Pipit Queen Mother Res, Berks December 2012
A Great Northern Diver that dropped in, as well as a showy Long-tailed Duck, added to the action at Queen Mother Res. And so that'll probably be my last bit of birding in the UK for 2012 (not because the world is going to end, despite the rumours). A decent way to end with a great day with a couple of excellent, showy birds within a couple of hours of London.
Pipit watchers at Queen Mother Res (photo by Andy L). First outing for my handmade woolly hat - thanks Mum!

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