Lesser Snow Goose at Eagland Hill

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An adult white morph Lesser Snow Goose accompanied Pink-footed Geese at Eagland Hill from 31st October - 4th November 2014. Between 5th-15th November it visited sites south of the Fylde Recording Area, including Downholland Moss, Hesketh Out Marsh, Banks Marsh and Martin Mere WWT, Lancashire.

Photos by Paul Ellis.

Common Cranes at Cockersand

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On 12th October 2014 Stuart Piner photographed three Common Cranes flying south over Cockersand at 13:03. Before reaching the Fylde the birds had flown over Sunderland Point at 13:00 and later that afternoon the birds flew over Seaforth LWT, Merseyside at 14:40. The birds therefore travelled at 22.4 mph over 36.2 miles between Cockersand and Seaforth.

Photo by Stuart Piner

Caspian Gull at Knott End

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On the evening of 30th September 2014 Chris Batty discovered a third-winter Caspian Gull on Preesall Sands at Knott End. The bird had been ringed as pullus at Kozielno, Paczkow, S-SW Poland, (50°28' N, 16°58' E) on 25th May 2012 and had subsequently been recorded in western France on five occasions between 23rd August 2013 and 15th January 2014. Photos of the bird taken in western France on 14th March 2013 can be viewed here.

Photo by Chris Batty.

Little Tern at Marton Mere

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A Little Tern visited Marton Mere on 7th and 9th May 2014.

The previous records of Little Tern at Marton Mere are:

1952 – a single on 27th May
1986 – a single on 27th May
1993 – three singles were recorded on 20th April, 15th May and 12th July

Photo by Paul Ellis

American Buff-bellied Pipit at Cockersand – a new Fylde bird

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On 4th May 2014 Stuart Piner discovered an American Buff-bellied Pipit at Cockersand - the first for the Fylde and Lancashire.

Finder's Account

Following a month of almost non-stop work, which had cumulated in a weekend-long paperwork session on Saturday 3rd and Sunday 4th May, I was approaching madness with genuine speed. By 6pm on Sunday, enough was enough, so my partner Josephine and I decided to take a walk at Cockersand. Whilst walking along Slack Lane I noticed a passerine hop out of the grass bordering the field by the road and land in the tilled earth. I immediately identified the bird as a Water Pipit and began to photograph the stunning pipit in summer plumage. Delighted with finding a Water Pipit in such an unusual location so late in the spring, I showed Josephine the bird and after taking a few more photographs, at 7.09pm we left the pipit still feeding in the field and retired to a local pub for dinner. Whilst at the pub I‘Googled’ ‘Buff-bellied Pipit May’ on my Blackberry telephone, but failing to find any photos of summer-plumaged birds in a brief internet search, I dismissed the possibility. Just before returning home, Lancaster birder Dan Haywood telephoned to tell me about his day birding, and I joked that I was just on my way home to check that I hadn’t ‘goofed’ a Buff-bellied Pipit! Whilst I clearly had the possibility of the bird being a Buff-bellied Pipit on my mind, I wasn’t giving the option serious consideration, or else I would have raised the alarm, and I wouldn’t have spent the remaining daylight sat in a pub.

We arrived home just as darkness was falling, and I immediately loaded my photographs of the pipit onto my computer. Suddenly, when the context of a coastal field in Lancashire had been removed (clearly, a coastal field in May should have been a massive clue that the bird was not a Water Pipit), everything became clear, and after a few minutes of playing spot the difference with photos of summer plumage Buff-bellied Pipits and checking features in field guides, I realised that my Water Pipit was in fact a Buff-bellied Pipit. I telephoned Chris Batty and asked him to urgently turn his computer on, and knowing of my earlier Water Pipit claim, he responded ‘why, you’ve not just found a Buff-bellied Pipit have you?’ After viewing my photographs he agreed with my (belated) identification and the news was broadcast on Rare Bird Alert.

Unfortunately, there was no sign of the bird at dawn the following morning. Given I try my best to make sure that other birders see the rare and scarce birds that I encounter, it was disappointing and embarrassing that my initial mis-identification cost people the opportunity of seeing such a great bird.

Ten years ago American Buff-bellied Pipit was a mega rarity in Britain; prior to 2007 had been just five records, but by the end of 2012 at total of 37 had been identified in Britain (with a further 18 in Ireland by the end of 2011). Consequently, whilst a spring bird was evidently not on my radar (in fact my bird was the first to have occurred in spring plumage in Britain or Ireland) an autumn bird at Cockersand was certainly on my hit list. Having cost everyone the spring bird, I’ll just have to try even harder to find one in autumn!

Stuart Piner, June 2014.

Identification


Separation from japonicus
Pipits and Wagtails of Europe, Asia and North America by Alstrom et al. states that rubescens and japonicus are ‘not safely separable’ in summer plumage. However, using some of the features listed in Advanced Bird ID Handbook by Nils Van Duivendijk the bird can be tentatively identified as a rubescens:-

•    Dark brown legs, pale pinkish to red-brown in japonicus
•    Weakly streaked upperparts (see figure 1), heavier streaking in japonicus

Photos by Stuart Piner

hybrid American Wigeon x Wigeon at Glasson

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On 6th February 2014 Dan Haywood discovered a hybrid adult drake American Wigeon x Wigeon on the Lune Estuary north of Glasson, just outside the Fylde Recording Area. The hybrid wigeon subsequently visited the Fylde, where it could be found frequenting the mouth of the Conder Estuary. A number of features identified the bird as a hybrid and not an American Wigeon, including grey (not pink) rear flanks, reddish toned face, yellow bleeding from the forehead stripe, absence of pink on the scapulars and grey (not white) axillaries.

The bird is perhaps the same individual as the hybrid which visited the Lune Estuary in January 2009.


Montage of 2014 bird and photo of 2009 bird by Stuart Piner