The Queen Mother Reservoir is situated at Horton in Berkshire, not far from Windsor Castle. From a leisure activity perspective it is primarily used as a sailing venue, and birdwatching is by permit only. On Wednesday 12th December 2012 local birder Michael McKee found a small pipit on the banks of the reservoir and couldn't believe what he was seeing. For instead of being the more usual Meadow Pipit or even the slightly more unusual Water or Rock Pipit, this was a Buff-bellied Pipit.
Buff-bellied Pipits Anthus rubescens come from America, Canada and Greenland and are often referred to there as the American Pipit. Most records in the United Kingdom come from Ireland and the off-shore islands and this is only the sixth record from England. Luckily, Michael was able to identify it quickly as he had seen them in Canada.
Access to the site was arranged by the Berkshire Bird Club who issued day permits, and over 1000 birders have been to see the bird. I went along on Sunday 16th December and joined a line of some 100 birders watching the bird feed along the bank of the reservoir. The main problem was that I had to keep on moving position, not to get closer but to get further way so that I could focus on it. It had a habit of running towards you down to just 5 feet away which is not much good when your lens will only focus down to 12 feet. Anyway, it was well worth it. Notice the completely black legs and the white eye ring.