Friday 20 December 2019

Devon Flashback 18 - Red-throated Pipit

My first ever Red-throated Pipit was the Skern bird on May 4th 2003 (I'd dipped it the day before). A gorgeous bird that was well worth the cross-county twitch (twice). I was stunned at just how red the Skern bird was and my diary entry (which is way too long and waffly to include here) recounts how pleased I was to get it calling. Summer-plumaged Red-throated Pipits are a rare sight in the UK and this remains my only one, though I've since found two, less colourful, autumn birds on Orcombe Point. The first was on 23/10/09 and the second on 9/10/12.
I managed good views and a photo of the first one, but the second one played 'cat and mouse' in stubbles on a very wet morning, and I never got decent views. The repeated calls given as it flew around with Meadow Pipits were enough to clinch it and get it accepted by the DBRC though. RTP has since been reinstated as a BBRC rarity.

Skern bird.

My first 'self-found' RTP on Orcombe Point  -above and below.

I was pleased to get this photo, after a lot of chasing, as the bird sat up in the hedge. Initially attention was drawn to it by its distinctive, drawn-out wheezy call. Note the brown-toned crown and ear coverts, and heavily-streaked flanks.


  1. Nice account! Missed one on Scilly this year but have seen a few in the past there. My best UK birds in breeding plumage was of 3 I think in Happisburgh, Norfolk, one spring in a field with at least a couple of Black-headed Wagtails- great experience. Otherwise seen them in Lesbos in spring + less striking on Crete in the autumn.

  2. Hi Neil - wow! That must have been some sight! RTPs have always been difficult in Devon.
    Many thanks for your comment. All the best and have a great Christmas. Matt