Saturday, 10 May 2014

The Pipit, The Shrike, And The Dove.

 American Buff-bellied Pipit. Stuart Piner.

I appreciated a personal text message recieved last Sunday evening telling me of an American Buff-bellied Pipit at Cockersands, a MEGA find and a first for Lancashire. Unfortunately for those hoping to see the bird the following day they were to be disappointed as it was never found again.

The nominate race of Buff-bellied Pipit breeds from Greenland, across northern Canada, down the Rockies into the USA. It winters in southern USA and Central America. Until 28 years ago it was treated as conspecific with the Water Pipit.

In 1910 two ornithologists spent the autumn on St Kilda in the Western Isles and found 35 new species of birds to the island. In late September they were attracted by an unusual call amongst a flock of Meadow Pipits which proved to be the first Buff-bellied Pipit Anthus rubescens for Britain, though two previous claims from elsewhere were rejected. Ireland's only acceptable report was of a bird in County Wicklow in October 1967.

I'm grateful to SP for the images of Sundays bird at Cockersands.

Woodchat Shrike. Dan Haywood.

Could I ever have dreamt that four days later whilst on a prowl around the Aldcliffe Marsh area I would find my own rare vagrant in the form of a stunning male Woodchat Shrike, seen as the kind of sighting which goes to spur us all on in our pursuit of birds.

I recalled 28 August 1999 when I was with my much missed mentor John Leedal, watching Honey Buzzard in the Rusland Valley in the Lakes when news came of a Woodchat Shrike found in a hedgerow north of the Eric Morecambe Complex at Leighton Moss and JL and I became instant twitchers and went off to get good views of this bird, a juvenile and not half as attractive as the Aldcliffe male on Thursday. The LM bird stayed on all day here and was enjoyed by many visitors to the site.

A rare vagrant, though it was removed from the list of BBRC birds in 1990, by which time almost 700 had been recorded in Britain, and didn't include in excess of 60 birds recorded Ireland. The bird winters in a broad band south of the Sahara, and breeds across southern Europe, through the Balkans and Asia Minor into Iran.

The first acceptable record of the Woodchat Shrike was of a bird in Bradwell, Norfolk in 1829 which had been shot by a farmer who had the bird preserved and kept in his possession, the bird was recorded by the Paget brothers.

Turtle Dove. Howard Stockdale.

According to a report the following day whilst at the Woodchat Shrike location at Aldcliffe, another rare bird - the Turtle Dove - put in a brief appearance in flight, though no mention of this bird has been made since, it made up a trio of quality birds in our area of North Lancashire over five days. 

I'm grateful to Dan for the image of Thursdays Woodchat Shrike at Aldcliffe, and to Howard for the photograph of the Turtle Dove.


Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. Must be difficult for you to keep up with all that is going on in your area. Great images and information re these megas .Keep up your excellent work and hope this purple patch continues.

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Thanks Peter for your comment.. Have a nice weekend..The nightingale sings here in all its splendor :-)))

Richard Pegler said...

I meant to put a comment on your previous post, Pete, congratulating you on the Shrike, so I do so now on this post. Well done!

That seems like a quite remarkable location with all that is turning up there!

Best wishes - - - Richard