Sunday, 2 January 2022

Buff-bellied Pipit

A warm and watery dawn to mark the start of a new year. Jan 1st 2022.

Yesterday - brief visits to a number of Exmouth sites:
Mudbank - totals included 250+ Dunlin, the juvenile Spoonbill, 14 Pintail, 22 Wigeon, 130 Shelduck, 6 Great Crested Grebes, 65+ Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 65 Mallard, 1 Peregrine, 6 Redshank, 1 Kingfisher, 60+ Common Gulls, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit and 1 Greenshank.
Maer Rocks - 2+ Purple Sandpipers and an adult Mediterranean Gull
Shelly Beach - 2 Red-breasted Mergansers and 2 Peregrines.
Imperial recreation ground - 1 male Stonechat.
Orcombe Point - 1 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, c30 Starling, 1 female Cirl Bunting, c20/30+ Skylarks, c20+ Meadow Pipits and the three Red-legged Partridges.
Maer Valley - 60+ Curlew, 7+ Redwing, 20 Linnets, 3 Mistle Thrushes, 1 Jay, 1 Chiffchaff, 1 Stock Dove, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Ring-necked Parakeets.

Last night, news of Devon's first Buff-bellied Pipit broke. It's a new bird for me so I resolved to meet Mark down at Prawle, at dawn, to see if we could find it. Pat Mayer had found it and photographed it last Thursday. Would it still be there? Well, to cut a long story short it was! First picked up on call as it landed a few feet in front of us - a reassuringly distinctive, ringing 'sip sip sip' - more like the rapid ringing call of a Grey Wagtail than the feeble 'seep' of a Rock Pipit. We enjoyed great views at if fed at the east end of Horseley Beach. Many thanks Pat! Also on the beach - 1 Bonxie, 1 Water Pipit, c10+ Rock Pipits, 1 Meadow Pipit and a Little Egret. I managed to get home for shortly after 11am, but not before a lightning quick look at a female Lesser Scaup, at the Torcross end of Slapton Ley. Great to see Pat for the first time in years, and great to see Mark, Kev, Jacob and Daryl too. A special morning.

At least one Cirl Bunting is wintering in the dung field 1/1/22.

Male Stonechat - Imperial recreation ground 1/1/22.

Spoonbill off Mudbank yesterday.

Buff-bellied Pipit - Horseley Cove, Prawle.

Buff-bellied Pipit (foreground) with Rock Pipit.

Bonxie with Herring Gull carcass - Horseley Cove, Prawle. First picked up by Daryl, this brute showed brilliantly as it focused on disemboweling its meal. The best views I've ever had of this species.

Looking south towards Prawle Point, from just below the village.

Female Lesser Scaup - Torcross.


  1. Well done on the Buff-bellied Pipit- quite understated gems! Saw my first on Scilly but then some years back there was one &briefly 2 by one of the big reservoirs to the west of London.

    A while since I saw a Bonxie- great shots.

  2. Thanks Neil - the Bonxie was great and totally agree - BbPs are smart birds - really rather distinctive in a quite subtle way. I've always resisted trips to see birds in west Cornwall so very chuffed to get one relatively close to home. Was bound to happen sooner or later! All the best. Matt