Yesterdays target bird was the Richards Pipit at Newhaven. Myself and Sharpy set off from Maple Cross at 06.30 and opted to stop at Staines Reservoirs along the way to see if the now fully drained North Basin had attracted any Waders of interest. Little Ringed Plover was a nice year tick but only Redshank and Lapwing added to the Wader role call. The Great Northern Diver was still present on the South Basin and showing the first hints of summer plumage. 8 Black Necked Grebes were visible toward the far bank. We noticed that the local boys were showing an interest in something further along the causeway and this turned out to be a couple of Rock Pipits in the far corner of the South Basin. A decent record for this area.
Walking back along the causeway Sharpy was a bit ahead of me when I got distracted by a Wheatear being harassed by some stroppy Pied Wagtails.You'd think that living on the Heathrow perimeter they'd be used to migrants but the message to this one was clearly "Get off our land" They pushed it along towards where Sharpy had now stopped and was looking intently at something. I soon caught him up and was able to get him on the Wheatear but what had caught his eye? He'd come across a small group of Meadow Pipits in the corner of the South Basin by the water tower, but on initial inspection, one of them looked good for Water Pipit. As I raised my bins for a look they all took flight and kept flying. Something I said maybe. We decided to give it a while to see if they'd return. Mipits began to reappear in ones and twos and almost at once we both said something along the lines of "what about this one then?" A pale pipit had appeared in front of us on the bank. It had dark legs and a fairly prominent supercillium. The almost white lightly streaked underparts were enough to satisfy us that we'd nailed are 3rd Pipit sp of the day and with luck the big one was still to come.
Less than an hour and a half later we were in East Sussex. The Richards Pipit had been seen 15 mins before we arrived but was currently laying low. We didn't have to wait long though before it popped up on a fence on the far side of the reed beds.
It flew left and out of sight but reappeared 15 mins later in the shorter grass in the meadow giving decent scope views for a while. It then flew left again and appeared to keep going for some distance. We were debating our options as to where to go next when another couple of birders arrived and we got talking like you do. As we chatted Sharpy spotted a good candidate for the Dicks Pipit land on the bank about 40 yards away. Now it was great scope views but do you think I could find it through the camera lens. What an amateur! It foraged the the slope for maybe 5 mins before departing again.
The beach was just down the road so it seemed only polite to pay a visit before heading for home. Not much to trouble the notebook here, but several pairs of Fulmar zipping in and out of holes in the cliff face were a pleasant surprise. Great birds to watch.
|Fulmar chasing shadows.|
So a 4 Pipit day. Certainly a first for me. But the day was tinged with some sadness when RBA posted the news that the Richards Pipit had been taken by a Sparrowhawk shortly after we left it. Of course we shouldn't be anthropomorphic. It's nature and hungry predators don't discriminate between the rare and the common. So after briefly sticking my bottom lip out I pulled myself together and hoped the Sprawk enjoyed his meal.