Monday 10 October 2016

Tawny Pipit

Tawny Pipit - strikingly similar to Yellow Wag front-on.

I walked home from school with Joel, dropped Maisie down at the gym and then headed up to Orcombe to do my quick circuit. I parked at the top of Gore Lane and walked into the big grass field with the dung in it (not the former 'dung field'). I walk this field pretty much every day during the autumn (with permission from the farmer) but it was clear straight away that there were more birds in there than usual this evening. A Linnet flock flew up and several Meadow Pipits took to the air. Over the noise of the many varied calls I could hear a 'chup' but I initially put it down to an odd calling Linnet. I looped around the top of the field and would normally have moved into the field on the opposite side of the road, but the odd call was niggling me. As I headed back through the field I again picked up the call, only this time it seemed more distinctive. I locked on to the bird just as it dropped in to the grass and was met with a pale 'blob'. I thought 'this is going to be Short-toed Lark' but realised the call was wrong. Crazy thoughts of Lesser Short-toed Lark entered my head but I knew this was fanciful. At this point I made the decision to go back to the car for the scope, as I didn't want to flush it. As soon as I found it in the scope I could see it was a Tawny Pipit, a new Devon bird for me and, as it turns out, Brian.
I stuck the news out and waited in the gateway for other birders to arrive. It showed well and, due to its paleness, was easy to keep track of. I did the initial check of the lores to rule out Blyth's Pipit but to be honest it was always going to be a Tawny, purely on the paleness and plainness of the plumage. Occasionally it would get spooked and get up and fly around - always uttering the loud and distinctive 'chup' but it soon settled and would call from the ground. It produced another sound that it is very difficult to describe - a weak, lark-like, faltering 'seeip' perhaps - quite odd and maybe part of a song?
I had to leave to go to the dentist just before 5pm but great to see Terry, Brian, Spencer and Chris before I left.
Also this evening - 3 Stonechats, 1 Wheatear, 3+ Chiffchaffs and the Yellow-browed Warbler in the usual spot.

Very plain underparts indicate this is an adult bird.

Crap photo but note the much darker and smaller Meadow Pipit in the background.

For a 'large' pipit this bird generally appeared quite small. This was partly due to the fact that it was always partly obscured by grass but also because it wasn't feeding alongside Meadow Pipits for most of the time.


  1. Gutted to miss this one Matt. Well found. Hope it lingers ...

  2. Great find Matt, well deserved.

  3. Thanks Nick and thanks Mike. Hope it's there for you today Nick.