American Buff-bellied Pipit 18 November

After finishing work late morning, I headed to Newbiggin with Bubo and wandered up the North Beach checking the pipits and wagtails for anything interesting, 8 Rock Pipits, 5 Pied Wagtails and the Grey Wagtail were the sum total. With ominous dark clouds coming from the west I picked my way back to the car and headed home. Part way a call came from Sam V “There’s an American Buff-bellied Pipit at Amble” – somewhat stunned as Sam poured out the details and directed me to the images posted by finder Clive Saunders.

Within 35 minutes I’d parked the dog, abandoned the car and was beginning the search on a decidedly empty beach. A quick glance at Whatsapp for earlier directions to see IF post that he was “watching it” currently, a scan of the beach revealed someone in a red jacket 500m up the beach, the only living soul in sight. I jogged/walked up the beach and sure enough Ian had it pinned down on the sizeable washed up seaweed banks.

American Buff-bellied Pipit, 18 November, Amble Northumberland

Periodically chased by the Rock Pipits that were also feeding nearby it remained largely faithful to this area over the next hour showing well down to 15m albeit, with the low sun having disappeared behind the adjacent cliff,in poor light. Subtle at first it became quite easy to pick out at some distance in flight with the obvious white outer tail and the strident distinctive calls.

A combination of low light and not really paying too much attention to camera settings or results left me a little disappointed when I returned home later with little usable by way of images. As a result I jumped online last night and ordered a Nikon P1000 so look forward to hopefully improving on image quality going forward.

This, when accepted, becomes my 325th bird in Northumberland and one of three new species I’ve managed to see this year despite 2020 being such a difficult year in many ways.

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