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Saturday, 6 November 2010

Covehithe Cliffs magic!



Saturday morning, I joined a small throng of birders including Chris M, Peter N and regular correspondent Paul W hoping for a sighting of the long staying (since Tuesday) Richard's Pipit in the field directly behind Covehithe Church. Initially our chances of seeing the bird didn't appear to be high, as no sign had been seen of it all morning, but at 10.35am it flew up from the middle of the field, typically a large long-tailed pipit which called an explosive rasping "shreep" and it flew south-east. I lost it behind the tale hedge bordering the eastern perimeter of Covehithe Church.
We met Jon E and others who decided to take the inland footpath, while we plumped for the seaward one. Phoning John H, who I could see across the field and by the metal gate on the inland path, we told him the updated news about the Pipit.
Taking the seaward path, winding south down to Covehithe Broad (or more accurately I should describe it as the remnants of it as much of the former path had fallen on the beach/ into the sea below due to erosion) we inadvertantly flushed it from the path, just 100 yards south of the end of Covehithe Church road.
It flew into a field and showed very well here for a couple of minutes (where I took a few pics) before unfortunately a Sky Lark flushed it and the Richard's Pipit flew back to the coastal path. It then proceeded to show well here often running up and down the path then changing tack and running across into the thicker grass either side of the path and even appearing by the edge of the field at one point.
A typical Richard's Pipit with large size and longer tail, clearly marking out as different from Meadow Pipit. It had a long more "dagger" thrush- like bill, pale lores, prominent a black sub- moustachial stripe, buff streaked upper breast but clean white underparts. I did not see the very long rear hind claw but another observer remarked on seeing it. This rarity from Siberia is a regular late autumn visitor to the east coast but we rarely see it in the Lowestoft area.
Suddenly, I saw 2 birds fly into the dead weeds at the very edge of the cliff, initially I thought they were Siskin, they were completely obscured to me by weeds in the foreground but when another observer said they were Redpoll, I moved round (they called a rasping sound) and could clearly see they were indeed Redpoll, and Mealy Redpoll to boot (a visitor from Scandinavia), one was a pale grey- white colour, an adult; and the other more obscured bird was grey-brown; a first winter.
They fed for a couple of minutes and I took a few pics at close range of the sdult and the immature before they flew due west.

Dark clouds and rain was our cue to leave, leaving Jon E still diligently trying to get the shots of the bird. especially as BINS and Rob Wil had texted me saying a Sibe Chiff- Chaff was showing well in Sparrow's Nest found by Andrew E.
Arriving at Sparrow's Nest, 2 birders (inc. Paul) at the top of Bowling Green said the birds hadn't been seen since 11.35. I decided to do my usual walk around, little was seen in Arnold's Walk save for a Starling try to throw me off the scent with a pitch perfect rendition of the Sibe Chiff- Chaff's "lost chick" call!
I located the tit flock at the top of the steps behind the restaurant and after seeing a reasonably confiding Jay and a Goldcrest by the aforementioned steps, I searched through the 50 or so Long- tailed Tits, including several Blue and Great Tits too. High up in a Beech tree, I spotted the excellent Siberian Chiff- Chaff (at about 12.35pm) it had very grey plumage, whitish supercilia, dark legs and bill and it followed the tit flock moving first west and then south among the trees bordering the Ravine.
I lost it to view but had brief views of a fine male Brambling facing me, but high up in the Beech tree.

2 comments:

Paul Woolnough said...

Could not believe it when we all but stumbled upon the Richard's pipit on the clifftop.

Could see the hind leg and claw were large.

Your shout of siskin was timely. Got all on the bird. I, taken aback by the red on the head and said redpoll. A n other soon realised they were two mealies.

Never saw the sibe chiffy. Lunch beckoned. I had crippling views of the Leathes Ham bird of years gone by, too close for bins and calling!

Peter Ransome said...

Cheers Paul, a good day despite the elusive Tristis!
Peter