Friday, 14 December 2012

Buff-Bellied Pipit

After yesterday's failed attempt to get to Queen Mother Reservoir, I was able to leave as soon as I got the kids to nursery. I threw everything into the car and made a dash for it but didn't bother with waterproofs since it was dry when I left and I'm too stupid to check the forecast. It started tipping down on the way there and when I arrived I found a soaked looking Lee Evans manning the gate so that the day permits could be issued. Once on the reservoir wall I could see a group of people looking this way so stopped and scanned and found the pipit, at that point quite distant, feeding in the grass on the path. As the rain got worse it vanished for an hour or so until refound further south round the reservoir. The bird worked its way round towards us until it was feeding on the concrete reservoir bank just a few feet from us.
I found getting decent pictures challenging. It was such a dark day it was a real balance to get the ISO higher enough to give a decent shutter speed without making it too soft. Extremely smart bird with an amazingly long and dagger-like bill. It had a really striking face pattern, with pale lores (although it could show a darker loral smudge from front-on), a strong eye-ring but not especially marked super. The mantle was fairly plain, with the background colour matching that of the head, nape and rump. Legs black or charcoal grey depending on the light. It also called a couple of times, quite unlike Water or Rock Pipit calls, a single fairly flat and un-squeaky 'tsit'. I've heard them make squeakier calls in the US but only heard this call today.