Thursday, 14 May 2015

From The Sublime To The Ridiculous! - 4.5.15

Red-Throated Pipit
Back in 2007 I needed 3 species of pipit to complete the set on the UK list. The Autumn of that year provided an opportunity to add both Pechora Pipit in Wales and Buff-Bellied in Oxon and Berks. Roll forward 8 years and I'd still not had a sniff at adding the last one of the set a Red-Throated Pipit! The nearest I'd come was 2 on Scilly in I think it was 2011 that turned up 4 days after I'd left and another 2 again on Scilly last year about 2-3 weeks after I'd gone home. Many are seen every year but all of them have been on remote islands or fly overs so when news broke of one on the deck on the Derbyshire/Gtr Manchester border I started to think can I get it. After years of not getting close to one I decided to see if it flew off but by the time I realised this one was sticking I'd stupidly left it too late to go so it was great news on the morning of the next day that it was still present. I jumped in the car and headed north through endless roadworks on the M1. I turned off at the Chesterfield exit and finally witnessed the twisted spire of the church! I got through the town and no sooner had I entered the Peak District park I hit traffic that held me up for nearly an hour. It turned out everyone was heading to Chatsworth House! The traffic jam did have a good advantage in that I heard a singing Pied Flycatcher between Robin Hood and Baslow!

Eventually I arrived on site and walked up to join about 30 other birders. The bird was still present but currently down a dip and out of site. Just then up it popped and finally RED-THROATED PIPIT was on my list and the pipit family was complete! The bird was a stunning summer plumaged bird with its lovely orangey-red throat and face and a much paler body compared with the Meadow Pipits nearby. For the next 30 minutes it played hide and seek with us and so I only managed a distant heat hazed photo but I was very happy to had seen it. I'd even given up going to see Watford FC's open top bus parade back home for this! With a 3 hour home journey ahead of me I made my way home but allowing myself enough time for a detour into Bedfordshire. Back in Chesterfield and stuck in traffic near a park and shopping area I heard a Crossbill calling from some pine trees but I didn't see it before I drove off.

The traffic was fairly kind and I made good time but just before the turn off I wanted the traffic started to build so that made my mind up and off I came. The village of Lidlington was my next stop and so I parked up and followed the released details up to the fence of the Amptill proving ground. Others had talked about 1,2 or 3 visits over many hours waiting for a glimpse of the bird in question so I wasn't holding my breath about seeing it if I was honest. 20 minutes had passed starting down a small ride between the trees when suddenly at the far end a stunning white, green, red and blue bird ran across my scope view and off into the woods. A total of 2 seconds viewing of my first ever LADY AMHERST'S PHEASANT wasn't what I had hoped for but at least I'd only had to wait 20 minutes and not 20 hours for it! I stuck around hoping for another view but all I had was a few calls. Supposedly this is the last remaining bird of its kind and so its on the list but in brackets!! A singing Garden Warbler was nice on the walk back to the car.

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