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Anthus richardi

by James Brown

SEPTEMBER 31st STARTED IN PROMISING fashion with a strong east to south-east wind blowing. This prompted my regular early morning sojourn to the excellent Corton area before school. The indications were good as two pale Scandinavian-type Chiffchaffs flitted between the fence wires by the sewage works on arrival. I followed my usual route north along the clifftops with expectations high of a few good birds.

At around 7.45am, as I approached the football pitch a large pipit was flushed from an area of long grass. The bird flew a short distance to a nearby grassy field, displaying long wings and tail. This bird deserved further investigation and I crept up cautiously to the area in which it had landed. As I came closer the bird became wary and flew off strongly to a field closer to the road giving a ‘churp’ as it did so, reminiscent of a House Sparrow. I was now confident that the bird was either a Richard’s or Tawny Pipit but knew I had to obtain better views. This time at a fair distance I erected my ’scope and grilled the bird as it strode around the short grass near the road. The bird was watched for about twenty minutes and all the salient features were noted for me to be able to confirm the bird’s identity as Richard’s Pipit.

The lores were distinctly pale with the eye stripe not extending in front of the eye, thus ruling out first-winter Tawny Pipit. The bird seemed particularly long legged with a large bill decurving at the upper mandible. The malar stripe was particularly prominent in this individual. The bird showed a rather upright stance and was approaching Song Thrush in size. As work commitments beckoned I reluctantly left the bird seemingly settled in its favoured field. Unfortunately I did not have any of the local phone numbers on me at the time and had to wait until after school (what about that detention then? – Eds) before I phoned the news out and to my knowledge the bird was not seen again. This is a shame as it was believed to be the first for the Corton area and would have been appreciated by many.

Owwwwwwww – I feel good. Git on up t’Corton like dat sex machine Do doo-do.

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