Thursday, 11 November 2010

Lapland Bunting in Bedfordshire from Steve Blain on Vimeo.

Strange, isn't it. After my previous post about Bedfordshire Lapland Buntings I didn't expect to go out the next weekend and find one in a field!

It's all thanks to Darin Stanley really. He was the one who found the Shore Lark while out walking his dog on Galley Hill. I was quite happily watching the grand prix until then!

After wallowing out of the house, and with only very rough directions, I managed to park at the top of Barton Hill Road and start wandering towards the golf course. After speaking to LGRE (the only person with any sort of directions from Darin) I headed for the highest bit I could see.

Skidding and sliding around on the chalky mud, dodging sheep (and golf balls) as I went, I eventually found Martin Stevens and Chris Deary scanning a very large roughly tilled field. After a few minutes hawk-eyed Martin calls me saying he'd got the Shore Lark. Thanks to his directions I manage to get on it fairly quickly, and wow, what a bird! It was a bright bird, with the yellow face really glowing in the bright afternoon sun shine. I was well chuffed.

After all too soon the hordes started to arrive. Shore Lark is just as much a monster locally as a Lapland Bunting would be. It was a county tick for virtually everyone who saw it. However it could be a devil to see, as the field was huge and the birds a long way off for much of the time.

It was mid-afternoon when I was carefully scanning through the Sky Larks trying to re-find the Shore Lark when I saw something chestnut waddle through my view. "what was that!" I said to myself. Mark T heard me "have you got something, Steve?" he asks. "I'll tell you if I see it again" came my reply. I instantly knew what it was, but I wasn't going to shout it without a proper look first!

About thirty seconds later and I latched on it again. A spanking male Lapland Bunting was facing me! Its black gorget and white belly were startling. It shuffled again to show its rufous collar and wing panel, with two white tram-lines down its back. I took a deep breath and said "I've got a Lapland Bunting - it's a male!"

Instantly there was pandemonium behind me. Shouts of "where is it, Steve" and "Can I have a look?" came from all around and a que had already formed to look through my scope. Luckily I had my zoom right up at 60x and the bird was still in the centre of my view, so I stepped aside. One after the other about five observers saw the bird moving around through my scope. I tried to give directions as best I could, but the distance the bird was at, and the fact that I was now about five feet from my scope meant that I wasn't really sure exactly where it was! After a few minutes the bird was lost.

About ten minutes passed and Lee shouts "I've got it again" and gives better directions. Luckily a few more people get on to this bird, but its apparent that this isn't a male, but a female. Making two Lapland Buntings!

This bird isn't quite as bright as the male, but still has a good rufous wing panel, a brighter white area in the wing, and two good tiger stripes down its back.

Thoughts of trying to re-find the Shore Lark, which everyone had came for originally (and mostly already seen), were forgotten, as people concentrated looking for the Laps - another county tick for virtually everyone present. As new birders arrived and casually said "is it still showing?" the reply most often heard was "which? The Shore Lark or Lapland Buntings?!"

A good day indeed, and as I said in my previous Lap Bunt post - October, the time to find Lap Bunts in Beds!

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