Blyth’s Pipit in West Yorkshire

and those two call types

Martin Garner

The Patchwork Challenge and on a smaller scale the Foot-it Challenge have given some form to the wonder and passion of local area birding. There is great banter and not a little rivalry as folk work their patches. Citizen science wins too. When Jonny Holliday found a Blyth’s Pipit two days ago on his patch it was a bit of a shocker. I know the area as I used to visit regularly when living in Sheffield. The patch the Blyth’s Pipit has chosen couldn’t be more seemingly incongruous.

Blyth's Pipit at Calder Wetlands, West Yorkshire by Jonny Holliday

Blyth’s Pipit at Calder Wetlands, West Yorkshire by Jonny Holliday

RBA have produced this helpful map which illustrates its chosen habitat- thats the M1 motorway to the left and an industrial complex all around:

map

Dave Aitken provided great companionship and most of the flight shots below are his. I enjoyed meeting a number of birding buddies there too.

It’s a remarkable find. Hearing both of the classic call types was once again educational. The longer “Richard’s Pipit-like call’ which I transcribe as splee-u sounded to my ears – not really like a Richards Pipit at all, being somewhat disyllabic sounding, higher pitched, down-slurred and sweeter– more flava wagtail like (as it has been described before). The ‘chip’ call was great to hear.

Have a listen (apologies re: motorway noise and wind)- how would you describe the call versus Richard’s Pipit?

Blyths pipit Dave Aitken 5

Blyths pipit Dave Aitken 8

 

Blyth's Pipit shleep call 9th Dec 2014 four

 

Blyths Pipit chip call 9th dec 2014.png two

 

Blyth's Pipit by Dave Aitken- which reveals the second outermost tail feather with small blob of white near the tail tip- versus more extensive white wedge on T5 found on a Richard's Pipit.

Blyth’s Pipit by Dave Aitken- which reveals the second outermost tail feather with small blob of white near the tail tip- versus more extensive white wedge on T5 found on a Richard’s Pipit.

As there have been a few understandable and legitimate comments on social media about ‘organised flushing’ – some excellent leg-pulling and also some more mischievous comments  (where presumptions are more interesting and provide easier fuel for scandal mongering than the truth) – for the record:

Seeing the bird was not easy so full credit to Jonny for making it work with minimal disturbance to the bird- which could have been very different. It’s a site that anyone can walk in and through, and indeed on several occasions since it was found the bird’s chosen field has been overrun by visiting birders. To manage this (some 400+ visitors yesterday) at periodic intervals a small group (usually 2-3 people) would walk along the western edge of the field on one sweep (leaving about 4\5 of the field undisturbed). The bird was seen to fly up usually once or twice, sometimes with Meadow Pipits. Considerable periods were spent with birders standing patiently on the bank without entering the field. While arguably not perfect, and I understand for some folk even this is a step too far, this seemed far more preferable than ‘leaving it to chance’ – which on several occasions already has lead to the field being overrun – and uncontrolled disturbance.

 

Once again- a remarkable ‘lifetimes find’ for Jonny and a the wonder of birds and their movements. Thanks for sharing it.

Blyth's Pipit JH 2

 

3 thoughts on “Blyth’s Pipit in West Yorkshire

  1. Peter Garbutt

    I remember coming down from teesmouth to see the Blyths pipit and everyone stood patiently on the bank waiting eagerly to see this bird.The organised flushes were great as we saw good brief views of the bird several times and heard the bird.many thanks to the yorkshire birders who were most helpful and to the guy who found it,well done.Peter Garbutt

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