Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Heading North West- Buff-Bellied Pipit and Surf Scoters!

It was late on the 27th that Tim Jones posted that he was thinking of going for the Cheshire Buff-bellied Pipit and wondered it anyone would join him, and with the next day (A Tuesday) being my day off, i inquired, and soon after plans were being made for the day!

We arrived at the end of Station Lane early the next morning, and we went about scanning the Pipit flock that was present. Some time later, it seemed as if the bird wasn't present, as we could not find it. While on a brief break from scanning the close Pipits, a scan across the fields towards the Estuary revealed a single drake Pintail, as well as distant flocks of Wigeon and Teal. A Little Egret and 50 Pink-footed Goose flew past, but we still couldn't pick it out. A pair of Stonechat kept us occupied, but soon after Tim had picked up the BUFF-BELLIED PIPIT, and soon after that we were both on it.
Initial thoughts that i may have been overlooking it were cast out as i scoped it. It really did stand out significantly from the Meadows. That fairly plain brown mantle, hindneck and crown stood out the most to me, but i was struck by a fairly clean and striking bird. Those white wing bars were very prominent and after initially being a little further away, the bird started walking and feeding straight towards us, and for a good space of time, the bird went of to preform very well for the assembled crowd!


It was as the Pipit moved closer that a familiar call rang out, and a second after, a stunning pale SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF flew past us, landing on the fenceline at intervals calling its head off!

After a good time watching both birds, we took the decision to move on. A brief stop at nearby Parkgate revealed little. A flyover Black-Tailed Godwit being the pick of the lot in my opinion!

The previous night, plans were made to head to my favorite country after leaving Cheshire, and after a fairly short 40 minute drive, we pulled up at the beachfront at Pensarn, and started scanning from there. Soon after, i was looking at 3 somewhat distant, though perfectly identifiable SURF SCOTER as they loafed offshore with a massive number of Common Scoter, all of which were showing in the same scopeview. Two of the birds were immaculate drake birds, but the 3rd was a fairly discreet female bird. The males almost gleamed in the sunlight, and the white patches on the hindneck and forecrown stood out like beacons, as did that huge brightly coloured bill!. Even with my fixed magnification eyepiece, it was clear that the female bird was paired to a male, and she would shadow his every move.

As with the usual MB mentality, a record shot is better than no picture, so despite the range, i took a few max zoom photos. And it seems as if one is identifiable!

Our view. The Scoter flock were about halfway between the low water tideline and the distant wind turbines.

It was crazy to see such a massive Scoter flock, as it stretched right off into the distance!

A scan of the sea revealed a few other birds also, and 5 Red-Breasted Merganser, 3 Red-Throated Diver and 10 Great-crested Grebe were seen.

What a day!


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