Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens) - Queen Mother Reservoir, Berks. 16th December 2012

In October 2007 I had returned from Turkey to find that a Buff-bellied Pipit had been found at Farmoor reservoir in Oxfordshire, the following morning had found me stood on the causeway between both reservoirs watching this incredibly rare inland species in absolutely terrible conditions. It was such a rare inland record that I certainly didn't expect to see another anytime soon.

That was all to change when on the 12th December Mike McKee found a Buff-bellied Pipit at Queen Mother Reservoir, a first for Berkshire and a huge rarity in the UK. Mike had also found both Roseate Tern and Manx Shearwater at QMR earlier in the year but this Pipit would dwarf both of these.

Viewing arrangements were organised to allow the masses to come and see the bird and a few days later I arrived at QMR, paid for a permit and parked up. The volunteers that had helped set-up and organise the viewing and parking arrangements gave me the latest news on the bird's whereabouts, I grabbed my kit and swiftly left the car park.

I hastily made my way to the top of the reservoir and headed off towards the throng of birders on a slipway at the northern edge. Here I found jerry O'Brien and a few other familiar faces amongst the gathered crowd of observers watching the B-b P. Frustratingly within a minute or so the Pipit was off, as it took flight and flew across the reservoir to the southern edge thus ensuing a long walk back round to find it.

By the time I had finally caught up with the Buff-bellied Pipit it was busy searching the waters edge for food. Searching for insects at the reservoir edge it busily paced up and down and even occasionally venturing in to the water to take food from the waters surface. It was incredibly active and never really stood still for any period of time, and despite the fact that at times it could be only a few feet away it was difficult to photograph. Digiscoping it was very difficult, the best opportunities came when it stopped to stretch it wings and preen, even this was the briefest of moments.


The Pipit continued to feed almost below the feet of the delighted crowd with many of them traveling great distances to see this bird, ridiculously close at times it showed brilliantly most of the afternoon.



A brilliant find by Mike, who then went one better by finding another Buff-bellied Pipit with the original on the 26th December, both these birds frequented both QMR and Horton GP's with the last B-b P sighting being on the 25th January 2013.


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