Wednesday 1 February 2023

Dung Rockits

Two, presumably local, so presumably petrosus, Rock Pipits have been frequenting the dung heap all winter but in the last few days they've been joined by four more birds. The six birds now seem pretty tied to the dung and at least two of them seem to be candidates for the Scandanavian littoralis race, being noticeably grey-toned above and whiter below. Of course, it's possible that all six originate from Scandanavia, but according to the literature there's considerable overlap in appearance between the two races. They're a bit easier in the spring apparently...
I've enjoyed Gav's posts on Rock Pipits - see here for a really good one.

Shades of BBP to this one.

Presumed littoralis.

Some nice yellowish tones to this lovely individual.

A rusty-brown presumed petrosus.

This bird is a pale, grey-looking individual that, at times, had me checking I hadn't overlooked a Water Pipit. I'm assuming it's a reasonable candidate for littoralis.

At some angles the pale supercilium is strikingly strong.

Meadow Pipit.

One of 2 Chiffchaffs feeding on the dung. Along with the chiffies and pipits, up to 4 Pied Wagtails, 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Dunnocks, a Wren and a Robin are spending time on the dung. Sometimes they're joined by a male Pheaseant and a Cirl Bunting or two!



  1. Hi Matt, it's great to see Rock Pipit featuring in blogs and on Twitter just lately. Clearly there are a number of us intrigued by these characterful birds. I would love to come across a ringed individual, but no joy so far. From what I've seen, these Norwegian-ringed (i.e., definite littoralis) birds do not stand out as different! Fascinating stuff. I'm getting the impression that a few littoralis at the paler end of the spectrum are doable in winter, but many are probably not. Looking forward to March, and a bit of pre-breeding moult!

  2. Thanks Gav - yes, have been struck by how unremarkable ringed birds look. Good to have an increase in numbers here but I bet none hang around 'til the spring. I haven't yet seen a spring littoralis but the local birds get a lot greyer above and more orangey below. All the best. Matt.

  3. Great photos Matt. Can you share where this dung pile is, looks like it's worth a visit.

  4. Hi Tom - just the usual one at the top of Gore Lane. Not too far away from you!
    All the best. Matt.

  5. Hi Matt, good to see interest in Rock Pipits. Prebreeding moult more extensive in littoralis (including wing coverts and tertials) I believe. Some of your birds showing moulting tertials at least so another good indicator.

  6. Thanks Tim - I know very little about Rock Pipits but have noticed some apparent moult contrast in greater coverts and some tertials missing. It's just nice to see these birds close-up and intriguing to see the arrival of new birds half way through the winter. I see you've got a Water Pipit on Bowling Green. Do you still get them off the rec? Remember some really nice ones a few years ago. All the best. Matt.

  7. Water Pipit now only an occasional visitor to the Rec I'm afraid; the BGM one seems to have gone missing also! Cheers, Tim

  8. I can remember the flock that used to winter at Countess Wear. Haven't seen one there for years now. Matt.