Tuesday, October 23, 2012

What a day....

I'm knackered!

Fall conditions certainly take it out of you, both physically and mentally.

This morning in thick fog and drizzle, I headed out with Bunty for her walk, on a recce to see if any birds had arrived. A few Robins 'ticked' and half a dozen Fieldfares and Redwings were on the coast path. At the south end of my patch is a geological feature on the coast called Rumbling Kern. Its a hole in a sandstone rock and when the sea is rough waves bang into it, hence the name.

Rumbling Kern
It is a smallish raised area, a bit like an island, and in today's fog it certainly had that feel about it.

On arrival, more Thrushes were leaping from gorse, and a few Goldcrests hunted in the tall Knapweed stalks. They looked tired.

Goldcrest down to 3 feet.

I went to check an old quarry recess in the Kern and saw a bird flush from the path. It was the call that attracted me first, a bit like a Redwings flight call and quite 'urgent' sounding.

A smallish bird, with white outer tail feathers ruled out Robin, then the call again and again...it started to dawn on me. This was a pipit. Getting late for Tree Pipit up here now but these things happen, so I was pleased when I saw it land up near the cliff top then run a yard or so to sit on an overhanging rock looking at me. Again it called - 'zzzeeet' tzzeee' sounding like it had a smokers cough too.

What a shock when I located it through my bins. A white breast with unbelievably heavy black spotting, like a thrush - OLIVE-BACKED PIPIT! I continued to watch through adrenalin -quivering lenses hoping it would start wandering about, pumping its tail in 'Jack Snipe' fashion, but no, it just sat there, soaked. I could even see its bill opening when it called, but, being above me, in poor light there was no colour.

I must get a better angle if I am going to eliminate a heavily marked Tree Pipit thinks I, and slowly walked backwards. I had to look down to avoid falling on bramble 'wires' and when I looked up the bird had gone. I heard a final 'tzzzeet' in the mist as it said goodbye...

What a pisser. Bird of the year on the patch and not enough to convince the records committee that it wasnt just a Tree Pipit...still, its going on my patch list even if it is in brackets.

Olive backed Pipit. Notes when I got home, before checking guides.
After dropping the terrier back at home, I was out again, this time up to check Craster. This was a a short lived visit as I fell over a barbed wire fence gashing my hand open in the process, so I had to retreat to tend my wounds. I said  these days are physically challenging...

Blood mopped and gash taped , back to Craster.

Here there were many hundreds if not thousands of thrushes. Mainly Fieldfares and Redwings with smaller numbers of Blackbird and Song Thrush. Robins were in every bush, and goldcrests were frequent but nothing too exciting could be found. I think the best were 2 Twite in the Thrush flocks moving west.

Home again for refreshments, then a walk to Cullernose Point, the north side of the patch, Birds were still clearly coming in. Blackbirds carpeted the ground as many Redwings left the gorse. There must have been 300+. In with them was a nice male Ring Ouzel, 6+ Bramblings and 3 Black Redstarts.

Another look at Rumbling Kern for 'Ollybippit' found more of the same with 2 Stonechat for the year list.

So a good busy day, but not quite the result I would have planned...

Fog lies heavy on the cobwebs.


Warren Baker said...

There was an OBP down on the south coast this week Stuart, see the ''reculver birder' on my blog list :-)

Warren Baker said...

I should have said see ''Marc Heath Wildlife photography'' on my blog list Stuart :-)

Steve Gale said...

Tick it, you know it was one... nice find Stewart.

Anonymous said...

I had one 3 years ago at Newbiggin,giving good views close to me ,and it's still in circulation with BBRC ,although the county accepted it. Tough cookies to get through!
Alan J.

Anonymous said...

Hi Stewart
From your sketch the most obvious feature I look for is the black and white spots on thew cheek. Is th not diagnostic? I don't recall seeing it on tree pipit.
Dave E

Stewart said...

Warren - That photo on Marcs blog ,facing, is a ringer for my views.

Steve - Its going on my patch list, sod the committees. Thats the first time I have ever done that.

Alan - Yes, so I wont bother. I'm not fussed really, see my comment above.

Dave - I have seen pics of well marked tree pipit showing the spots, though I have never seen a tree pip as well marked as this bird was.

But, OBP used to be called Indian Tree Pipit.

Thanks for all the comments chaps.