Friday, 6 May 2011

Tree Pipit: patch tick

A quick walk around Alnwickhill this evening produced 4 Tufted Duck on the water works and male Kestrel carrying prey. That's fine, I thought, enough to keep me going until I get out birding later in the weekend. In the meantime I was idly marvelling at the reproductive capacity of rabbits as witnessed by the sudden appearance of a multitude of small bunnies hopping around in the fields, when I noted an odd wing movement in the distance. As if on cue, a Common Buzzard was trying to balance while pinning one of the aforementioned and now writhing bunnies to the top of a telegraph pole. Within moments a Carrion Crow was on the scene and the Buzzard headed off carrying its prey.

Last leg of the walk and I was hoping for a Grasshopper Warbler in a patch of scrub when a pipit flushes out of the edge of a grassy field. Silent, and just fractionally bulkier than the Meadow Pipits that were in the same area only a few weeks ago, its more direct flight immediately suggested Tree Pipit. Sure enough it headed for a nearby thick hedge where it showed a nice contrast between the heavier breast streaking and narrow flank streaking (just visible in this heavily cropped shot). It then flew again and I assumed it was gone, but instead it turned and headed back towards its original location and landed in among the gorse scrub.

A careful stalk gave me a good view as it sat up in a broom plant for a couple of minutes. Not the best angle for viewing perhaps, but from the photos it is probably possible to discern the narrow flank streaking, curved hind claw, supercilium behind the eye, pale cheek spot and slightly stouter bill of this species. There appears to have been a strong passage of Tree Pipits through Lothian this spring. As a breeding species the Tree Pipit seems unaccountably rare in the region. Even though this is the first individual I have seen at the patch, there is a good amount of what appears to be suitable habitat in the Alnwickhill, Braids and Hermitage areas of Edinburgh and as the species can be unobtrusive unless singing I would assume that this species is a regular migrant in the area.

No comments: