Monday 12 December 2022


I'd not long got back from a job up in Somerset when Mike phoned with news of an Olive-backed Pipit in Phear Park! Phear Park is only a few hundred yards from my front door and apparently John Walters, the finder, was still there looking at it! I stopped washing Maisie's car (she's back from university on Thursday) and was there with John in seconds, soon watching only my second ever OBP - the last being the Brixham bird on 14/2/97! To watch this Siberian vagrant creeping around in the leaf litter, beneath an Oak, as dog-walkers raked around the place was strange but exciting in equal measure. Many thanks to John for a fabulous find and truly beautiful bird. It makes you wonder just what else is lurking in gardens and parks around the country.

It was fascinating to watch the behaviour of this bird - pushing through the longer grass and leaf litter and occasionally flying up into the Oak where it pumped its tail non-stop. It would then drop down in stages and sometimes creep along the tree branch, as in the photo above.

My 250th species in Exmouth. Unexpected gems like this just strengthen my resolve to stay local. The possibilities are endless...


  1. Nice one Matt. What a good bird for your 250th local species.

  2. Hi Nick - yep a really good bird for 250 and a sharp reminder that good birds can turn up in all sorts of places! Hope you and the family are all well. If I don't see you, have a restful Christmas. Look forward to some good mothing in 2023.
    All the best. Matt

  3. Great bird & some fine shots. I've only ever seen one at Pitsea-probably in the 80's.

    Presume the June Walter's who found it is the guy who's a brilliant artist-seen many of his insect artwork?

  4. Hi Neil - yes the very same. An amazing naturalist all-round and wonderful artist. He was searching for an aphid species can you believe! Amazing to think the OBP would probably never have been discovered had it not been for this serendipitous sequence of events. The school where I work is split on two sites, both adjacent to Phear Park. I cross a bridge between sites (along with over 2000 kids) everyday when I'm at work, that cuts across the corner of the park. From the bridge I can see the Oaks where the OBP feeds but they're too far off for me ever to have seen or heard the pipit. Just goes to show how much luck is involved with finding rarities. All the very best. Matt.

    1. Wonderful story! Seems incongruous looking for an aphid species would turn up an OBP. Great to have it on your door step!