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Buff-bellied Pipit - Myrpiplerke - Anthus rubescens
Hedpiplärka - Hedepiber - tuhkakirvinen - Pacifische Waterpieper - Pazifischer Wasserpieper - Pipit farlousane - Bisbita Americano

I found the second ever American Buff-bellied Pipit for Norway in the fields outside my house at Tjeldstø, near Bergen in SW Norway. Tjeldstø is not really considered the best place to turn up rarities but it holds its own and a lot of good birds have been found here over the years.

The U.K. had a good run of Buff-bellied Pipits earlier in the autumn so it was perhaps not surprising that this bird turned up as the first American passerine seen in Hordaland. Not surprisingly it was the subject of something of a twitch with quite a few birders travelling up to see it.

The local television, normally uninterested in this kind of thing, even turned up to document it. See this link for more. The local newspapers ignored this mega completely which was slightly odd given the coverage of last year's Crag Martin and Lesser Scaup.

Later in the autumn more Buff-bellied Pipits turned up further south in Norway.

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway
This was quite a confiding bird at times - this picture was taken shortly before making its television debut.
Tjeldstø, Øygarden, October 2012

American Buff-bellied Pipit
American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Øygarden, 09 October 2012

Identification of American Buff-bellied Pipit:
Nils Van Duivendik's Book "Advanced Bird ID Guide The Western Palearctic" proved invaluable during the ID of this bird - and again a few days later when I found the county's second Siberian Stonechat.

Working systmatically through the list of points which separate Buff-bellied Pipit proved most helpful:
- Centre of tertials very dark to black distinctly contrasting with upperparts (Water Pipit and Rock Pipit not as dark and less contrasting)
Photo at the bottom of this page shows this well
- Complete white eye ring (Water and Rock have eye-ring broken by dark loral stripe)
- Pale lores (Water and Rock have dark lores). This is perhaps the most obvious feature
- Distinct moustachial stripe
- Rather slender Meadow Pipit like bill
- Distinct supercillium (creamy coloured in rubescens). This feature seemed to vary considerably from photo to photo but there is no doubt about the creamy supercillium
- Rump concolourous with rest of upperparts -
- Upperparts almost unmarked
- Crown and upperparts uniformly coloured
- Sometimes diffuse pale centre to ear-coverts - something this bird shows a tendency towards
- Cream coloured to brown-orange underparts - clearly shown on this individual
- Grey-brown to blue-grey upperparts with only faint streaking or even spotting
- Breast rather well-marked with short well-defined streaks often extending along flanks
- Malar stripe normally distinct

And to nail it as the American rubescens:
- Wing bars cream-coloured to whitish and rather diffusly bordered
- Legs usually dark brown to blackish
- Upperparts greyish, often with slight olive wash
- Most have more white on tip of t5 than on japponicus

What the book doesn't mention is the jizz. To me this bird had a distinctly wagtail-like feel to it. Especially on landing after short flights it bobbed its tail and really felt like a wagtail. The jizz was one of the things that made me give this bird a closer look - it was generally much more confiding than the local Rock Pipits usually are. However, this changed whenever it fell in with the wrong crowd - a couple of White Wagtails were feeding in the same field during the following days and were typically skittish - the Buff-bellied then also became very flighty and unapproachable.

See this page for pictures of Rock Pipits - the most likely confusion species locally

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway

Above and below: pictures taken in fading light on the evening I found the bird.
In retrospect a straightforward ID but at the time I struggled to find the time to check the literature before letting the news out.

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway
Singing bird, Hernar, June 2012

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway

Above and below: Pictures taken on 12 October - the bird had dried out somewhat and was easier to ID...

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway
Above: note the rump colour is the same as the rest of the upperparts - not browner as it would be on Water Pipit

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway

American Buff-bellied Pipit, Tjeldstø, Norway
Here seen showing off its tail feathers

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