This is an excellent time of year to look for the littoralis sub-species of Rock Pipit (also known as Scandanavian Rock Pipit). So far one or two birds have been seen at Orlock point \ Briggs Rocks, County Down. Any coastal area with washed up seaweed is probably worth looking at!
If you are unfamiliar with this bird, it is illustrated in the Collins Bird Guide. A summary of the features of the bird seen yesterday at Briggs rocks are:
Overall greyer than nominate Rock Pipit (the mantle was greyer), a narrow white supercillium extending behind the eye, a very strong white eye ring, pale wing bars, all black bill and dark legs. With regard to the underparts, the base colour is cleaner than nominate Rock Pipit and less heavily streaked. The Briggs Rocks bird was also showing a light pink flush to the throat.
These birds are typically seen in early spring as they migrate to north-east Europe. As they moult in to their breeding plumage they become much easier to identify. Strangely the Briggs Rocks bird was seen to collect nesting material!
Below are photographs of birds that Ronan McLaughlin observed in Cork during the last week: