Sunday, 15 October 2017

Pechora and Red-throated Pipits on Hegura this week

Pechora's silent and skulking nature will mask a few records no doubt but it is a genuine rarity in Japan. And that despite being a fairly common passage bird just across the water in Korea. I've had two or three frustrating October possibles over the years, all on Hegura, all in flight, but only one that gave sufficiently clear views to be sure of. So I was really really pleased to finally nail this one on the ground, or to be more accurate perched up on a stem. In accordance with the Pechora playbook it had flushed silently as I made my stumbling, staggering way through the invisible rocks beneath the tangle of clinging vegetation along the higher section of the beach. Instead of making directly for the horizon as most past possibles had done, it perched long enough for me to clinch the deal. Success at last! This was as good as a tick. Then it dropped back into the thick stuff never to been seen again.

Not so much tram lines as black and white stripes, exposed primaries, black looking coverts with bold white tips, inconspicuous supercilium and contrastingly streaky crown... what more could I want?

...well, mostly pink lower mandible and streaky ear coverts. 

It was worth visiting Hegurajima for the brief views of this fantastic bird alone!

The only bird that might cause confusion is Red-throated and the other side of breakfast I conveniently found the following bird for comparison. One of the features that the literature often mentions in the separation of Red-throated and Pechora is that the latter has dark lores and the former pale lores. This doesn't always seem to be the case, in fact Red-throated often seems to have a very distinct blackish loral line. Red-throated is common enough in Japan for me to see fairly regularly but uncommon enough for me to pay them special attention. I wonder what I would have made of a dark-lored bird had I discovered one in the UK. Of course there are plenty of other features to have pointed me in the right direction but this could have been a source of confusion.

A heavily cropped shot of the Red-throated showing the typical extent of white in t5.

This bird has a clear dark loral line and though this is often most obvious when birds are viewed head-on it's obvious from all angles in this case.

Another darkly marked bird from October a few years ago.

Again from a previous October, this bird has more suitably pale, unmarked lores.

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