Tuesday, 3 March 2009

O P D...... Obsessive Pipit Disorder

Last week I decided to venture down to the picturesque and quaint Thameside locality of Swanscombe marshes and it's Keep Britain Tidy foreshore. Fortunately I wasn't disappointed as the tide line debris was as varied as ever complete with wood, plastic, metal, the resident mannequin in the mud and of course my favourite birds, Pipits !
This site is one of the best to observe the wintering and migratory Rock and Water Pipits as the birds often feed close by and allow good scope views and often feed side by side. The Rock Pipits are represented by the migratory race 'littoralis' that tend to appear in the Thames Estuary from late Sept into October and remain sometimes into late March. There then appears to be a turn over of new birds arriving and migrating back to Scandinavia whilst the original birds from early winter are joined by new birds migrating through the South-east.
The above bird is a Water Pipit still in winter plumage and lacking the superb pinky flush almost Wheatear like that it will acquire as spring continues and into it's summer plumage with greyish upper parts. The wing bars clearly show up highlighted by the very blackish coverts.

The bird above and below are Rock Pipits with the greyish washed upper parts whitish supa, and off white wing bars.
The underpart streaking is gradually becoming reduced now as the bird acquires a 'pinkish' washed breast and greyish crown. The birds calls are to my ear virtually identical.

An excellent male Kestrel was also present providing good views.