A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Red-throated Pipit - Ludworth Moor (Derbyshire/Manchester)

With an alert popping up mid-morning on the Sunday telling us there was a Red-throated Pipit showing in a field up near Manchester on Ludworth Moors, it was a no brainer to take the trip to try and catch up with this local mega, hoping it would stay the course and remain loyal to the site for the rest of the day.

With records usually emanating from the Scilly Isles or as flyover individuals, Red-throated Pipits are notoriously hard to twitch, so it was all systems go heading down the motorway! Usually less than an hour from my house, it was rather unfortunate that we were based in Wales for the night, but we made good progress and managed to arrive on site just after lunch.

With the bird showing well as soon as we arrived, the assembled birders luckily got us on it through their scopes, and we enjoyed great views for all of about 5 seconds before it took high to the air and flew off over in the distance! Would that be it?! A short, sweet and very jammy encounter?!
Red-throated Pipit - Ludworth Moor
Luckily the pipit had flown only as far as the field across the track, and after 5 minutes or so it took to the sky again, flying directly over our heads and landing in the original sheep field. Making its distinctive flight call once as it did so, this was a great opportunity to experience the call in the field, and ideal to help nail the ID on any possible flyover Red-throated Pipits in the future.

Walking back to the road, we were able to look over the stone wall across to where the pipit had landed, and after emerging from the tussock it treated us to excellent views on the deck as it fed amongst the grass and sheep poo – taking advantage of the abundance of small insects present. Parading around in front of us, we took in the rich red throat and head, an exceptionally bright bird and standing out from the accompanying Meadow Pipits by a mile.
Red-throated Pipit - Ludworth Moor
Red-throated Pipit - Ludworth Moor
One of the rarer pipits on the British list, the bright red colouration of the head and throat were distinctive in these circumstances, but with drabber plumage and standing out much less, autumn individuals can usually be identified by the whitish mantle stripes, streaked  back and lack of any broad white wing bars.
Red-throated Pipit - Ludworth Moor
The whitish mantle stripes can be seen in this shot
It’s not often that we get Red-throated Pipits in this plumage, with first winter birds in the autumn seen most often, so it was a rare opportunity to study this beautiful pipit up close. With very few twitchable mainland records in the past 10 years, this was a fantastic bird to catch up with and even better that it was so local!

Being in the area, we also popped in to Pennington Flash to catch up with one of the many Black Terns that had been grounded in the UK by the poor weather overnight, and we enjoyed distant views of this beautiful tern, the stunning smoky black plumage really standing out from the accompanying Common Tern flock. A nice Willow Tit gathering nesting material was also a nice surprise outside Teal Hide, having not seen any at the regular feeding station when we stopped by.
Willow Tit - Pennington Flash
A trip to Meols to end the day failed to turn up the 3 Dotterel that had amazingly been showing on the beach that afternoon – a crazy sighting - but a gorgeous summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper and flyover Grey Plover were both nice consolations! 

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