Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Red-Throated Pipit

This morning I arrived just after 7 at a dirt field that normally has sod on it down near the Mexican border below San Diego to look for a red-throated pipit (see photo above taken by Mat Sadowski--unfortunately clicking on it will not enlarge the photo). As predicted by Wes, Guy McCaskie was there ahead of me looking for the pipit. We worked the field together for about 30 minutes without locating the bird before Guy needed to leave. I then kept scanning all the american pipits, horned larks and killdeer. I knew this was my best chance to see this extremely rare fall migrant.

About 9 a local woman birder arrived and we began to work the field together. She had been there the morning before with Mat, who had originally found the bird, but she had not seen it then, so she had returned for a second try. Probably 30 minutes after we had started to scan together we realized that there were more pipits in the field than there had been. After another 15 minutes she heard the red-throated pipit calling as it flew over our heads. We watched it land about 50 yards away where we put our scopes on it. While not as "pretty" as it is in its breeding plumage, it was still a good looking bird, and definitely stood out from all the american pipits. It flew up and away, but we heard it again, and relocated it a 2nd time before we decided to move on to other birds.

I drove to a nearby location to look for the large-billed sub-species of the savannah sparrow group. Not only did I find 3 of them feeding together, but in my search I also saw the typical savannahs and the belding sub-species. I returned to my car to figure out what next I should do, and ended up talking with a RV couple about birding in places like Gambell, AK.

I saw 12 more new birds for the week, and the pipit brings the YTD up to 687. I am sitting writing this post at a McDonald's waiting to see if the curlew sandpiper found a few days ago in Massachusetts was seen again today. If it was I probably will catch a redeye flight tonite to Boston. Stay tuned!

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