Megas have a habit of breaking usually on a Monday morning and of course the Blyth's Pipit was no exception. Another Monday morning, another mega. Usually the trend when we're all back in work, so again, the long wait to the end of the week began. After the Blyth's Pipit showed well for the majority of Monday, it was last seen flying towards the M1 after spending the day on an industrial estate adjacent to Pugney's Country Park. That meant one thing; it had either gone to roost or it had buggered off, never to be seen again!
Luckily, it returned and favoured the same grassy, flooded field from where it was found in up to the Saturday where myself and Steff went to see it. Blyth's Pipits are very rare birds in the UK with the majority of records coming from Shetland and Scilly. This bird represented the first for Yorkshire and it was pretty much the closest we were going to get to one as far as UK records were concerned.
Breeding in Mongolia and neighbouring areas, it's usual migration path would take it towards Southern Asia but this bird hit Britain! This year alone has seen a tiny influx of 2 previous records this autumn coming from Scilly and Pembrokeshire. We travelled down on Saturday and found the site quite easily. With it being relatively elusive, we were worried that our only views would be flight views like many others have acquired. To our delight, our first views were after 20 minutes of arrival of the bird on the near bank preening. I got on it straight away and immediate differences were noted from the accompanying Meadow Pipits: Longer, stubbier bill, pale yellow legs, dull, mostly plain breast and a visibly streaked mantle were to name the obvious. It reminded me of the Tawny Pipit I saw earlier in the year!!
The bird showed well from distance for a good 5 minutes before flying low in the grass and lost to view. Although, I didn't see the tail of this bird in flight very well; it is very worn and ragged differentiating it (along with it's overall, stockier size) from the Meadow Pipits. There has been much controversy over the dealings of viewing this bird with people taking upon themselves to purposely wade through it's feeding area to flush the bird as well as organised flushes. In my opinion, neither are necessary as the bird has been showing well enough of its own accord throughout the day.
After leaving the bird behind, we decided to wait for the gull roost at Pugney's. With up to 5 Caspian Gulls seen in the roost in the previous night, we were quietly confident a bird would turn up that evening. Luckily, our dreams came true and Jonathon H (who also found the Blyth's) picked out a second winter Casp as dusk was in full flow. Caspian Gulls are far commoner in the East rather than the West and that showed with just 2 records for Wales (which happened to be this autumn). It was a much needed bird for me and one I was relieved to see!
|2w Caspian Gull - Taken by Steff Leese|