Thursday, December 8, 2016

American Pipits in Imperial Beach

A rare Red-throated Pipit had been spotted at the baseball fields on Sunset Avenue. Several birders had searched unsuccessfully the next morning. I joined them for a while. And while no Red-throated Pipit, with their strongly striped backs, was present I did have an opportunity to photograph American Pipits. These turned out to be some of the best photos of these birds I've yet taken of these hyperactive birds.

American Pipit

Breeding on mountaintop snowfields, in winter pipits feed by chasing insects on the bare ground or short grass fields or shorelines. They merge and split into flocks of various sizes on the ground, but easily take low flight together when approached too closely or alarmed by a bird of prey flying overhead--when they may flush high and away completely.

Here, however, they've grown accustomed to dog walkers and others using the fields when no games or practices are occurring. As they walk quickly forward with horizontal posture they jerk their head forward with each step and constantly bob their tails. Thus, many of my attempted photos have been blurred by the movements of head or tail.

Sometimes, though, they pull up suddenly, raise their heads erect, and freeze--but just for a second.

American Pipit

American Pipit
American Pipit. Imperial Beach, California. November 25, 2016. Greg Gillson.