18th March. Many Pipits (to cross off)

I'm confused. This morning during my now daily round of the patch things were going well. A couple of Shelduck were on the big lake and a nice adult Kittiwake dropped in among the Black-heads. Things were looking good.  That is until I found a pipit. I've been scrutinising the pipits and wagtails over the last few weeks hoping for a Rock or perhaps even a Water so it was no surprise when I picked up this bird.  My gut feeling was that it was a Rock Pipit of the littoralis race.  The light was poor and it was feeding on the small island about 30 metres away but I managed a few digiscoped shots at 800ISO.

However after looking at the pics and video I'm not so sure. The legs look pale, the supercilium strong and behind the eye and the breast isn't particularly strongly streaked, with the salmon pink wash coming through and fairly extensively. The outer tail feathers (visible in the first shot) also appear pure white. In my limited experience of spinoletta Pipits (I've seen more Buff-bellied in the last couple of years -shame!) I'm now leaning towards Water Pipit.  However, just to add more pain - to my already pipit induced headache - I found a further two this evening around the edge of the big lake. Again the light was poor but this shot, taken at 1250ISO clearly shows a different bird and one that I am happy to call a littoralis Rock Pipit. Clearly I have lots to learn about this tricky group and comments for and against are most welcome, but please don't waste your time telling me that I'm a twat as I already know that!

Shit picture (digiscoped at 60X) but nice and easy 


The Leicester Llama said...

I think you're right Mark - I'd go for Water on the first bird.

Jason K said...

The first bird is definitley a Water Pipit and quite a smart looking one as its starting to come into its breeding plum.

As wellas diagnostic features such as the white outer tail feathers, the light bars on the wings and the well marked supe, it is also showing signs of grey aon its head and the summer breeding plumage pinkish flush.

Nice one Mark...a very smart looking little bird indeed!