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Last Monday, during my stroll along the Ely embankment path, I enjoyed a close encounter with this Rock pipit. It had ventured across the pavement at the top of the stony embankment and was poking about in a pebble-filled ground-floor garden in front of one of the tall apartment blocks that border the path. I guess, to a Rock pipit, one group of stones is as good as another to explore for insects.

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The Rock pipit saw me approaching and quickly hopped back across to the safety of the embankment, where it would be easier to fly away. So, I moved to stand next to a lamp post, kept completely still and waited.

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As I’d hoped, the pipit decided I presented no immediate threat and, though it continued to keep a wary eye on me, it soon hopped back across to the garden again. So I was able to spend a delightful 10 minutes getting some photos and watching it foraging. It always amazes me how much food small birds like this seem able to find – tiny titbits to be sure but, presumably, enough to keep them alive.

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It was only when I got home and checked my photos that I noticed the bird’s gammy right leg, with its twisted misshapen claw. This had not seemed to be causing the bird any difficulty while I was watching it. And then something stirred in my memory – I was certain I’d seen this bird before. And, sure enough, when I checked through my Rock pipit album, I had photos of this same bird in this general area taken on 27 January and 11 March 2017, and 11 and 31 January, and 14 March 2018. I’m not sure how long Rock pipits usually live but this little bird has obviously been coping remarkably well with its disability.

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Same bird, 11 March 2017