Pechora Pipit – 2007 first for Wales

Anthus gustaviCorhedydd y Pechora

Pechora Pipit at Goodwick Moor , Fishguard 19th – 23rd November 2007.

In the gathering gloom I decided a walk with the dog on Goodwick Moor was in order. I accessed the reserve from the gate next to the Seaview Hotel and made my way on to the moor. Over the bridge I turned left and walked towards the area where the boardwalk starts. After about one hundred metres I approached the area and noticed how flooded it was from the previous nights rain. Under the willows on the left of the path there were quite large puddles the water being much more extensive that it normally is.

As the dog walked along a couple of yards in front of me a bird moved under the willows to the left and sat on a small branch a few inches above the ground , I raised my binoculars and looked at the bird , a pipit sat facing me . My first reaction to this was a thought of what a strange place for a Meadow Pipit, I’ll have another look. At this point the pipit just hopped back down on the ground and carried on what looked like feeding, now I was able to get a good view of its back & wings showing me a pair of bright white braces down the back of the bird and the bright white wingbars. It had also dawned on me that the pipit had shown little concern over my and the dog’s presence, had no intention of flushing and had not made any sound. I decided to make a few calls, Paul Grennard was the first person to answer, he wasn’t able to get to the site but he gave me an idea of the I.D. details I needed to look for. When I told him what I had seen he immediately said it sounded good for a possible Pechora or maybe a Red-Throated but I needed to see if the primary feathers were longer than the tertials, that would clinch it.

The bird had disappeared by now so I stopped talking to Paul and contacted Steve Berry who was at home which is less than five minutes away. I then was able to contact Richard Dobbins who was soon on his way. The bird showed again and I was able to pick up some of the features that Paul had relayed to me like bill colour, white belly and the dark streaking on the white flanks but couldn’t get the primary projection as the bird crept mouse-like under the willows. Steve had arrived now and got straight onto the bird and as soon as he saw it said “You’ve got something here“. It then disappeared again just as Richard arrived, but we only had to wait a short while until it showed again with myself, Richard and Steve almost certain of its I.D. but still, because of the light and pouring rain not able to see the wing conclusively.

We decided to leave the bird as it was nearly dark, discussions were had with other local birders Paul Grennard & Dave Astins that evening and their intention being to be at the site at first light to join Richard who had decided to try to re–locate the bird the next morning. I unfortunately could not join them because of work commitments.

First light next morning Richard , Paul and Dave re–located the bird very quickly in the same area and picked up the required primary projection in much better light than we had the previous day, confirming its identity as Pechora Pipit, Anthus gustavi  the first record for Pembrokeshire & Wales.

The Pechora Pipit breeds in the scrub-tundra and taiga of subarctic Eurasia, from the Pechora region of NE Russia to Kamchatka. It is migratory, wintering in the East Indies, so is rare in Britain, with 67 records between 1925 and 2007, over 80%  having been recorded in Scotland ,mainly at Fair Isle, between late August and late October, the Goodwick bird being the first in November. In winter they are mostly found feeding amongst forest undergrowth, where birds are generally quiet and unobtrusive, Goodwick Moor evidently being suitably similar habitat.

Adrian Rogers