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!

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