Local birding after my successful twitching

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Common Wood Pigeon. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Common Wood Pigeons landed on the trees of the Grove Farm. © Gyorgy Szimuly

On the way home from the successful Buff-bellied Pipit twitch I explored the wider region around Milton Keynes. At the Grove Farm near Toddington a massive 550 Common Wood Pigeons flew over the road. They were flushed by something from the nearby farmlands (mainly cabbage patches). I could not spot a Stock Dove among them.

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The view to the flooded pastures near Thornborough. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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The majority of Northern Lapwings where feeding on this arable land. © Gyorgy Szimuly

The next target was to visit the pastures and arable lands between Thornborough and Leckhampstead. I had one more hope for today to find and see waders in the middle of winter which is always a pleasure to my Hungarian eyes. As two weeks ago, I visited the pastures along the Great Ouse River at Thornborough. The flooding was over but the adjacent fields have been very soggy and wet providing good feeding habitats for the birds.

Birds seen on pastures south of the river:

Northern Lapwing 135,
Black-headed Gull 75,
Lesser Black-blacked Gull 32,
Common Wood Pigeon 25,
Redwing 28,
Fieldfare 47,
Rook 16,
Carrion Crow 10,
Western Jackdaw 12,
Common Starling 40,
European Goldfinch 3,
Common Redpoll 1.

The Common Redpoll was posing on the bush next to me and was flying over me while calling. As birds were quite scary many Northern Lapwings were flushed and they flew towards the pastures next to the A422 road where I found them for the last time. I followed them and suddenly found a large flock of Northern Lapwings on an arable land right to the junction of A422 and the Leckhampsted road. A nice flock of 750 birds were together but many more was coming from the opposite pasture. As a total of approximately 950 Northern Lapwings were present.

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This pasture was full of wintering thrushes. © Gyorgy Szimuly

From Thornborough i drove to the Manor Farm in Old Wolverton. Time by time I revisit this area mainly for waders. Today there was no sign of any waders but the pasture was yet interesting. It was full of thrushes feeding in the grass. Black-headed Gulls were chasing Fieldfares and stole the earth worms from them. It was an interesting behaviour. The gravel pit was still filled by the river but many roosting sites have already been available. I saw a few waterbirds, like Eurasian Wigeon and Grey Heron there.

Birds seen on the pastures:

European Sparrowhawk 1,
Redwing 102,
Fieldfare 114,
Mistle Thrush 1,
Western Jackdaw 8,
Carrion Crow 15,
Common Magpie 6,
White Wagtail 3,
European Goldfinch 3.

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European Goldfinch. © Gyorgy Szimuly

2,178th lifer: Buff-bellied Pipit in the UK

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Buff-bellied Pipit at The Queen Mother Reservoir. @ Rob Smallwood

Yesterday I decided to give a real twitching a try as few days ago a Buff-bellied Pipit was reported from The Queen Mother Reservoir. As the bird was often relocated I utilised my day off to make some nice birding.

I woke up early and headed to the reservoir. i arrived by almost the first lights. The reservoir was just west from the runway of the Heathrow Airport thus was extremely noisy by the taking off planes one by one, minute by minute.

At the gate kind volunteers directed me to the parking place and then I started my easy walk to the southeast part of the reservoir.

A couple of birders have already been there and checked the actively feeding but shy Meadow Pipits. A few minutes later someone shouted ‘He’s got it!’ and people started to run some just bucketed to the scene.

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A lot of birdwatchers returned home happily today. © Gyorgy Szimuly

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Side view of the Buff-bellied Pipit showing its colouration and features well. © John Pringle

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Front view of this real rarity. © John Pringle

The bird was there and everyone could see it from about 15 m distance. It was annoyingly chased by two White Wagtails but luckily it flew just behind us. It provided some amazing views from often less than two meters. Guys fired the exposure buttons of their camera while others, like me, played with their smart phones to make some images or video clips.

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This Buff-bellied Pipit was very tame and cooperative. @ Rob Smallwood

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Wing stretching Buff-bellied Pipit. @ Chris Baines

I wished to see it together with Meadow Pipits but this bird was moving alone. I could watch every feathers carefully as it was really close. Thanks to the SwaroVision brilliance I really enjoyed what I saw through the optics. Overall the bird was very dark and dull coloured. Honestly it was not really similar to any of the artwork published in the Collins Bird Guide (2nd ed). I found its lesser coverts quite pale. All in all it was a nice bird and seemed to be the rubescens subspecies.

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I played with my iPhone 4s and captured this clip. © Gyorgy Szimuly

I could not find the Red-necked Grebe nor the Long-tailed Duck but seen a few Great Crested Grebes, Tufted Ducks, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and an adult Peregrine Falcon. Next to the reservoir, at Horton Rose-ringed Parakeets confused me…

Buff-bellied Pipit became my 2,178th lifers and the second lifers since we moved here!

These excellent bird images were kindly offered by Rob Smallwood, Chris Baines and John Pringle. Thanks a lot for them!