|The second Buff-bellied Pipit at Garður in as many days.|
|Note the distinct lack of buff! This is not, apparently, a problem in nominate rubescens ...|
|Note the largely whitish underparts and supercilium, and the heavy blackish upper breast streaking.|
In these respects at least, the bird appears more similar to some illustrations of japonicus Buff-bellied Pipit from Asia (or even Water Pipit) than it does to typical nominate rubescens from North America, but I guessed that perhaps the latter was more variable than I had realised. This was confirmed by Killian Mullarney, who on viewing my pics helpfully commented: “I have no doubt that your bird is a rubescens. It seems to be the case that rubescens in much more variable than is generally indicated in the ID literature, with some being much darker and more heavily marked on the underparts than the lighter and finely streaked type … It also seems that some are a lot more similar to japonicus than we might like.” US-based Luke Tiller also kindly confirmed the ID as Buff-bellied.
It was good to have the find verified, though interestingly – as this double occurrence indicates – the species is less of a mega-rarity in Iceland than it is in Britain (with so many more observers in the UK, how many must we be overlooking?). Amazingly, I heard later that Yann Kolbeinsson had three Buff-bellieds at the site on Monday – no wonder Edward refers to Garður as ‘Buff-bellied alley’!
|Almost monochrome in appearance, this American Golden Plover stands out from the European crowd.|
|The Blue-winged Teal finally gives away its hiding place.|
|Presumed islandica Common Redpoll: there is ongoing debate about the status of Iceland's redpoll taxa.|
Day 4 can be summed up in one word: travel. An early departure allowed for no birding on the Monday morning before flying back to Gatwick, but on arrival back home it turned out that my quest for Yank vagrants over the long weekend wasn’t quite over …