Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Picking Up The Pace - Long Valley

After having a lie in on Monday morning during this public holiday, there isn't an excuse to refuse the opportunity provided by the glorious weather. So, my father and I headed out for an afternoon stroll around Long Valley. It was actually a bit hot when we arrived, and we took shelter in the shade of the Tofu factory for some time before heading out at 3pm.

Things started off pretty quietly, scanning for crakes and rails along the vegetation along a pool had me looking at a Pin-tailed Snipe, or less precise but in a more politically correct term a "Swintail Snipe". In general it is believed that field identification between Swinhoe's and Pin-tailed Snipes are near impossible, as measurements from trapped birds revealed that many previously assumed field identification were in fact bollocks...or in a more scientifically correct term; many features shows significant amount of overlapped between the two species. The only reliable way to identify the two species are by looking at their outer tail feathers, you can either see that when one is preening or when a snipe is about to land and fans it's tail out. Although this one remains inconclusive, I did managed to saw a TRUE Swinhoe's Snipe during this outing, as I managed to get a clear look at it's tail as it fanned out for landing. No photos though...maybe next time.

Some beginners finds it difficult to separate stationary snipes, especially to tell between Common and "Swintails", I included here an old photo I took of a Common Snipe for comparison between their upper parts plumage, notice the two thicker creamy coloured lines along the back of the Common.

"Swintail" Snipe - although I lean towards it being a Pin-tailed for this one...

Common Snipe - an old photo for comparison

Most of the paddies were still rather fresh, only one small field were beginning to ripen, Munias were feeding in there so we waited a little while to see if any Buntings would appear. Sure enough, a pair of Yellow-breasted Buntings landed into the middle of the paddy, giving a rather obscured view, but it's still nice to see this Long Valley regular back again. We waited a little longer hoping that perhaps the Black-headed Bunting that had been around would appear as well, but that one never materialised.

Turning the lovely golden colour...

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Eastern Yellow Wagtails numbers had started to pick up, there were quite a few feeding along the fields, all of them were taivana, here's one that was a bit more confiding, picking up what looked like a worm? Near another patch of paddies we also flushed a Cinnamon Bittern out, but unfortunately was not quick enough for a photo.

Eastern Yellow Wagtail - taivana

I was scanning the Arrowhead field for Painted Snipes where I found two, when my attention was suddenly drawn to a small bird that flew out from cover and dropped back down some long grass. My initial thoughts was Bunting, so I sneaked up towards that patch of grass, only to find a small bird walking away from me, looking through my binoculars and it was pretty clear I was in fact looking at a Pechora Pipit, the diagnostic white stripes were very visible from that angle. The bird was flushed once again and landed on the footpath opposite to us, this time showing it's very white underparts. I managed a few quick shots of this smart looking bird before it flew off once again! What a flighty little thing! For the next half an hour we played hide and seek with the bird, only getting a few glimpses of the bird, never enough for a better shot. None the less, this find totally made my day!

Pechora Pipit - the only half decent record shot of this smart looking Pipit!

We also found quite a few newly arrived Red-throated Pipits for comparison. The much duller upper parts and buffish belly gives good comparison to the Pechora. They also behave very differently, where Pechoras are usually shy and prefer to land in well covered areas, Red-throated will nearly always give you a good view out in the open. Pechoras also seems to prefer damp patches of ground while Red-throated are OK with much drier fields. A good record for me anyway, as it's been a while since I last seen one at Long Valley!

Red-throated Pipit

1 comment:

  1. As regards the snipe, we have Wilson's Snipe here and it is very similar indeed to Common Snipe of the old world. They don't occur together but I suspect that if they did many of us would have difficulty distinguishing one from the other based purely on morphology.