Friday, 3 February 2023

Water Pipit

The Axe, in particular Colyford Marsh, was once one of the best sites in the county/southwest for Water Pipits.  Double-figure flocks were frequent during the winters of the late 90's/early 00's, but we are down to single figures now, often just one and some winters none at all!  The winter of 2017/18 being the only recent exception. 

A single bird has been seen sporadically over the last month or so, but despite numerous visits to Colyford Common during January I haven't seen it, just the usual 6 - 12 Rock Pipits of varying shades.   But this morning, finally, stood on the platform at the top end of Colyford Common this walked out of the tussocky grass on the opposite side of the tramline...

Plainish brown back contrasting with grey head, white wing-bars, nice white super - bingo!


I then enjoyed a few minutes of some nice prolonged views in the damp grass...

I am so fond of this species

A pose any Isabelline Wheatear would be proud of!

Soon after it took off most the Colyford Common Rock Pipits started flying around, and when they landed again on the wires over Colyford Common, the Water Pipit had joined them.  Despite the variability of our wintering Rock Pipits, as always the Water stood out like a sore thumb.  One more photo of it having a preen...

A lot of zoom used to get this!

I counted 18 Rock Pipits too, almost double what I usually see here (plus nine Meadow Pipits).  Some of the Rockits were really striking looking birds, just take a look at these two...

Both birds quite pale underneath

Would love to photograph all these Rockits properly but it isn't easy.  The flock is mobile, often hard to approach when feeding and aren't that photogenic when perched on overhead wires.

It was a double year-tick morning, with Mistle Thrush finally added to the list also at Colyford Common.  Otherwise bird-wise we seem to be in a bit of a lull period. A mild westerly airflow not really doing the business, I like my winters cold so more of that would be good!

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