A Blyth’s Pipit flies in from Mongolia and gets city twitching

9 Dec 2014........Twitchers at Calder Park near Pugneys in Wakefield where a Blyth's Pipit was spotted yesterday (Monday). Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/15d
9 Dec 2014........Twitchers at Calder Park near Pugneys in Wakefield where a Blyth's Pipit was spotted yesterday (Monday). Picture Scott Merrylees SM1006/15d

A Mongolian bird sparked a mega twitch this week after it took up residence on a industrial estate.

A Blyth’s Pipit was discovered on Monday on a patch of land off Peel Avenue, Durkar, close to Pugneys Country Park.

Blyths Pipit photographed by Mick Hemingway

Blyths Pipit photographed by Mick Hemingway

The rare vagrant was found by stunned birder Jonny Holliday and it is the first record of the species in Yorkshire.

Mr Holliday, 43, said: “It just flew up at the side of me. It called, which alerted me immediately, because it wasn’t a call I was expecting. I quite quickly had a suspicion of what it could be, but I couldn’t really believe it.

“I had a couple of brief flight views. It then settled in a tree and I managed to get a bit of video. I could be fairly sure I knew it was a Blyth’s Pipit.”

He said he was familiar with the bird, which is known as “a little brown job” in ornithological circles, but it had a habit of being misidentified. So he called for back up from other local birders before triggering a mass twitch.

He said: “I got a couple of trusted people to tell me I was seeing what I was seeing and hearing what I was hearing.”

Then he broke the sighting on social media and on other birding networks.

On Monday the pipit drew “all the top Yorkshire bird listers” and on Tuesday people from as far a field as Portsmouth, Kent, London, South Wales and Inverness made a bee-line for the site.

Mr Holliday, of Crigglestone, estimated up to 500 people had seen the bird by the end of Tuesday. That could swell if it sticks around until the weekend when more birders may make the trip to Wakefield.

There have been about only 20 Blyth’s Pipits ever recorded in Britain, with the majority of sightings being on the Shetland Isles, Scilly Isles or coastal areas.

He added: “To have one land on an industrial estate in Wakefield is pretty amazing.”

Mr Holliday classes his discovery above his 2004 finding of a Bufflehead duck at Pugneys in 2004. He said the star pipit would also boost his rankings in the Patchwork Challenge, which is a bit like fantasy football for birders. He joked that he has become something of a birding celebrity because of his star find.