17th September 2014
Here’s what it looked like through camera and blown up:
Six other birders joined in the search. Most Meadow Pipits (40 plus) were in an adjacent grass field which was out-of-bounds. No further sightings.
This was the peak time of Icelandic Meadow Pipits to move through the east coast, plus the unusually presence of obvious Greenland Wheatears
Played this game before
I had the same reaction only once before. ‘Looks just like a Buff-bellied Pipit':
Here’s what I wrote in October 2011 on finding a Buff-bellied Pipit with Paul Harvey, Roger Riddington and Brian Small:
…Only taking a few more steps I noticed a movement amongst the cattle-chewed vegetables, put my binoculars onto it to see a bird that looked just like a Buff-bellied Pipit! It’s hard to say why it seemed rather obvious, the bird was in full view and not far away. I think partly I was fully genned up having made daily checks of numerous Meadow and regular Rock pipits for this very species. I had even made an excursion out onto the wild west side of Unst with Brydon T and our Shetland Nature group little more than a week earlier, specifically looking for Buff-bellied Pipit. Thus I had a high level of current familiarity with the common species.
Having made the initial shock assessment, I looked again and ticked off ‘big open face’, ‘rich apricot buff underparts’, ‘broad diffuse buffy wingbars’ and crucially the clinching feature for me; incredibly plain upperparts. I turned and none of the other three, now a field away, were looking in my direction. I didn’t dare shout, so I looked back at the bird, it was still there and it still looked just like a Buff-bellied Pipit. I turned around, praying now that someone would be looking my way, and thankfully Paul was. I waved frantically and all three were soon up and straight onto the bird. It took a moment for their shock to subside but all quickly concurring around a common thought- it really was one!
Here photos of the 2011 bird on Shetland, with more of a write up HERE
Comments from friends on the Flamborough photos. A couple of folk wondered if a wacky Meadow Pipit could be eliminated- though my field impression was far from that. The majority thought…
Wow! It does look really good….that was my first impression from your Twitter photo and still is my feeling now based on face pattern and coverts plus general colour.
My first impression on seeing your photo was Buff-bellied but I am not sure the photos alone are enough. Hard to see what else it could be (although the photos look a bit pinky and it’s hard to be sure what the lores are so could it be a moulting adult water Pipit?).
Hmm, pfff (:-)) It almost looks like a summer plumage…!? rich-buffy breast, greyish upperparts, no obvious flank-streaking? Anyway it certainly looks very interesting. Summer plumage Water Pipit maybe comes close but how odd would that be…! And maybe bill looks too small too for Rock/Water Pipit.