Friday, 20 March 2009



(cold Easterly wind but clear, bright and sunny)

Warren Claydon discovered a ROCK PIPIT at Wilstone Reservoir early evening on Wednesday 18 March. It was associating with two Pied Wagtails of the rocky foreshore at the edge of the reservoir just below the car park steps and remained until dark.

Fortunately, the bird was still present the following morning (per Charlie Jackson, and later seen by Roy Hargreaves, Francis Buckle, Ben Miller, Mike Campbell and others). David Bilcock and I were not able to get to the site until late afternoon but thankfully it was still showing very well in the same area in which it had been first found. It was showing exceptionally well and was generally moving back and forth along a 100 yard stretch of the reservoir edge and top bank, and occasionally flying as far as the jetty.

It was a SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT (littoralis) in transitional plumage and was superbly photographed by Dave (see images above). Much of the brown of winter plumage had been replaced by greyer-brown feathering, particularly on the upper mantle and head, and the obvious dark malar patch was bordering a light peach-coloured throat and upper breast patch. The white supercilium was quite well developed, extending from just behind the bill (loral area) to a little way behind the eye, whilst the underparts were still largely streaked, with long blotchy brown streaks extending from mid breast, along the flanks and short of the white undertail-coverts. The stout bill was all dark whilst the legs had a warmer element to them, with some dark orange-brown infiltrating. The outer tail feathers were off-white, but markedly whiter than the decidedly grey of petrosus Rock Pipit but not pure white as in Water Pipit.

When two fisherman and their barking dog walked along, they flushed the bird and it uttered a sharp, explosive, single ''vissssttt' call-note, uttered twice in well separated intervals.

(The bird is still present today, Friday 20 March)

Also of note were 62 FIELDFARE flying north at 1715


At last, I finally caught up with SAND MARTIN (all other regular Tring birders had seen them over the weekend during my absence) with 19 birds feeding over the reservoir early evening.

A migrant flock of birds was also present on the east bank of grass including 16 'alba' wagtails (all mostly adult male Pieds but including two very alba-like first-year male Pieds), a Grey Wagtail and 2 'grey' Meadow Pipits

The first day of spring (Friday 20 March) saw a LITTLE RINGED PLOVER at Tunnel Way Development, Pitstone (Steve Rodwell) - the first in our area this year. The SCANDINAVIAN ROCK PIPIT was still showing well on Wilstone (per Francis Buckle)

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