Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A Pipit update.

Not that it matters much, no sleep is being lost, but my Pipit conundrum rolls on. I thought I had the matter solved, but seemingly not. Along with Steve Ray, we both sat in the Marsh hide at Stodmarsh yesterday afternoon (24th), with the pool out in front frozen and 4 or 5 Pipits periodically venturing out onto the ice. I managed a few images and although the birds were not really close enough, with a large crop they are OK for identification purposes. I and Steve were sure that they were Water Pipits. 

I had a theory as to these Pipits.The numbers have now dwindled down to 5 or 6 birds, definitely well short of the 20 + birds seen last week and and this is my theory. The birds originally photographed were in my humble opinion indeed Rock Pipit's (a lot of people will not agree with this but general consensus of opinion and the research I have done via the Internet seems to point to this) bought in to the area by the very cold temperatures (-5 to -7 degrees) experienced of late and the dredging of the dyke with the extracted mud deposited on the bank making a welcome food source for the birds struggling due to the freezing conditions. Once the newly exposed mud became frozen, the visiting Rock Pipits moved on, leaving a handful of Pipits left which I think are Water Pipits, including the ones today seen by Steve and myself. They look a lot paler, cleaner and when calling sounded like Water Pipits, not Rock Pipits. Also they responded to a Water Pipit call and ignored the Rock Pipit call. Feeling rather pleased with my synopsis, I then learnt through social media that people still think the birds posted above are again Rock Pipits. Well that blows my theory out of the water and also leaves me a little unsure of what I am looking at but whilst now convinced that the earlier birds were in fact Rock Pipits (Littoralis) I am just as convinced that the two above images are Water Pipits. Can anyone tell me why the are not. 
Other bits seen, several Water Rails, Four Marsh Harriers, one a superbly marked Male, a skulking Bittern in the reed bed and Steve had a male Hen Harrier before I arrived.

1 comment:

  1. Steve,

    I'm sure what we had on the ice were water pipits. The shot I got of the one that landed in front of us (posted on my flickr site) has a clear supercillium, had a whitish chest with brown streaks and has reasonably distinct wing bars. In contrast the shot/bird you originally posted on flickr has no supercillium to speak of and doesn't have wing bars so either water pipits are highly variable with respect to these features or the birds were different.