Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Richard's Pipit found on Tuesday afternoon appeared to have departed by the time we arrived. But the following morning we flushed a large pipit which, although silent, was probably the same bird. We eventually relocated it on the South End later in the morning before finding another, or the same, on the North End in the afternoon. Both the times we connected with the bird(s), they were particularly nervous and flushed from long range, disappearing with the distinctive shreep. The Corncrake remained around the plantation, but also proved camera-shy. A Pied Flycatcher and a couple of Tree Pipits this morning were the only noteworthy changes to recent days.

Although this photo is heavily cropped, and a bit crap, there is still enough to confirm the bird as a Richard's Pipit. The pale lores, heavy bill, long tail and mantle pattern all support the identification, even though the median coverts, hind claw and breast pattern cannot be seen well enough. The Richard in question was Monsieur Richard of Luneville, a French naturalist and collector. However it was Jean Pierre Vieillot, himself a French ornithologist, who described the bird and named it after the Lunevillian. It seems that Vieillot was a bit of a birding legend; he was an early proponent of the study of live birds (rather than shooting anything that moved) and he was one of the first to realise that the juveniles and females that were being claimed by contemporaries as different species, were in fact one and the same. (c) Richard Brown

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