Water Pipit, Portishead

Now that weekends are weekends again (I have a proper job), I’m using them to chill out. Yesterday’s chilling took me on a chilly walk round Port Marine, through Eastwood and finally to Battery Point on a high tide to try for purple sandpipers. On the way I also hoped for the black redstart at Portishead Pier. That was not to be.

It didn’t seem the purples were to be either. One lone fisherman shouldn’t have been enough to put them off: plenty of rock remained for their roost. Instead a pipit bounced across my view. A-ha! rock pipit, I thought. Well, you would. So I settled for looking at that.

But the bird wasn’t quite right. Not dark enough and the legs… well, they were pale. Meadow pipit then.

On a rocky foreshore? And picking around as though it belonged? Two obvious wing bars were the first field mark to rouse suspicions of water pipit. Those and the plain, unstreaked, greyish back and head. The sun rode low in the sky and not in a good position for picking out detail but I also got a slight supercilium. The light did though emphasise dark streaks against clean white underparts.

Then I lost the bird. And it popped up again further away. Getting back on to it revealed a purple sandpiper this time. The pipit didn’t show again but several more sandpipers flew in to make a rather tidy haul. Not only that but water pipit puts my Portishead list at 120, equal to Edinburgh and Alviso. And my car-free tally is now 161.

I didn’t expect such immediate listing landmarks on my return to wage slavery. There’s something to be said for this working lark.

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