I rounded of an exceptional birding year today, with a short trip over the Severn bridge. My Dad and I headed down to the small reserve known as Pilning wetland, at Northwick Warth in Gloucestershire.
A small number of Water Pipits have turned up to winter there this year, and they were today’s target – a British tick for me.
We arrived at the south end of the reserve at half two and walked a kilometer or so along the sea wall, passing several small pools which held good numbers of Teal and Gadwall as well as smaller numbers of Shoveller and singles of Pochard and Wigeon. A Water Rail was also heard calling in the reedbed. There were several hundred waders around too, mainly Lapwing and Oystercatcher, with lower numbers of Dunlin and Redhanks also present.
It took a while to find the Pipits, but eventually we came across a flooded field with good numbers of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits feeding in it. We set up the scopes, and were able to pick out some chunkier plainer Pipits – the Water Pipits. They were noticeably pale, with a relatively bold supercillium and moustachal stripe, reduced streaking on the underside, an unstreaked greyish nape and warm brown rump.
We watched them for some time, getting excellent scope views in the low afternoon sun. I took a couple of photos for the record, but the birds were a bit too distant for the camera.
A good trip to finish the year on a high note.