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Thread: Pipit from Spain

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008

    Default Pipit from Spain

    An interesting pipit, identified by the finders as Tawny, and later as Blyth┤s, was seen in Galicia, NW Spain, this weekend.
    I went to see the bird myself today, and studied it for several hours in company of other experienced birders. In the field, the bird looked quite small (I┤ve seen several hundred Richard┤s Pipits, and this pipit is noticeably smaller, appearing just a little bit bigger than nearby Meadows, and shorter tailed than most of the Richard┤s I┤ve seen). Crown is darker and more streaked than usual, as well as the back. Behaviour is also interesting, as the bird walks more "horizontally" than what┤s usual in most Richard┤s.
    However, the bird called at least 7 times, giving an absolutely Richard┤s type call. I┤ve heard Richard┤s Pipit calling many, many times, as well as Blyth┤s a couple of times, and I couldn┤t detect any difference in this call from the typical richardii sound. One of the moulted median covs of the left wing (the third one from the left, easily seen in one of the photos I attach, named "pipit") has also typical Richard┤s pattern, with the dark centre being triangular shaped, absolutely wrong for Blyth┤s. Tail pattern is also good for Richard┤s, as well as the apparently long hind claw. Belly is whitish, contrasting with the brownish upper breast. For all those reasons mentioned, I would identify the bird as a 1║w Richard┤s, perhaps of the dauricus/sinensis race, but would be interested in hearing others┤opinions on the bird.
    I attach a couple of shots, taken by Marco Garcia, and you can see some great pics here:


    Daniel L. Velasco
    Attached Images Attached Images

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Algarve, Portugal


    The images are not very clear, but this looks like a Meadow Pipit to me. I certainly can't see either Tawny or Richards on the basis of these shots.


  3. #3
    Senior Member Howard King's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2009


    Helm Guide Pipits and Wagtails - states under identification for Blyth's - quote - is extremely similar to Richards and is best told apart by voice.... maybe the only way to prove your ID one way or the other is by recording the call and in my opinion it was never a Tawny
    Last edited by Howard King; January 12th, 2010 at 08:37 PM.
    Bahrain Birding - more than just a blog

  4. #4
    Senior Member darrenjhughes's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008


    clearly Richards type by pale lores in first image the second is a little more confusing see attatched photo this bird was at first ID'ed as Tawny last year on brief views and call when photo's were studied later it was sorted out
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
    Senior Member Ben Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Default Sticking my neck out

    Hi Daniel,

    Great photos, thanks for sharing.

    Right, this is clearly either a Richard's or a Blyth's, as has been already established.

    Looking through Marco's photos on the link provided, each time I look at them they shout "Blyth's!", "Blyth's!" at me - the jizz is just all wrong for a richardii, seeming small billed and short tailed, also with a relatively short super.

    In addition, the pattern of the single adult-type inner Median covert on this picture looks more like Blyth's than Richard's to me, so I'm going to stick my neck out and say Blyth's! -

    However, I've only very, very limited field experience of Blyth's so look forward to learning from those with more - I just can't reconcile the feel for this bird with my experience of Richards.

    Cheers & Good Birding,

    Last edited by Ben Miller; January 12th, 2010 at 09:34 PM. Reason: Forgot link...

  6. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    Can't see where Meadow Pipit comes from in these photos I'm afraid; bill too stout, no flank or breast streaking, supercilium too pronounced for a start. The lores do not appear to be dark, therefore not Tawny. This brings us back to either a small Richard's or a Blyth's as per the original post. Pointed dark centre of median covert would seem to point to Richard's, as does the call heard. However more horizontal carriage when walking would perhaps suggest Blyth's. On balance I'd probably plump for a small Richard's.

  7. #7
    Senior Member AndyB's Avatar
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    Feb 2005


    Hi Daniel, is your video the same bird?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007


    Hi all,

    I agree with Ben Miller concerning the structure and proportion of the bird. If it's a Richard, it's a small and delicate one. The pattern of the single adult median covert pointed by Ben also looks more like Blyth's than Richard's to me. But variation seem to exist (From pipit & wagtails).

    However, the bill is not so small and pointed (in the range of Richard as far as I know) and the outermost tail feathers on this picture appear too white for a Blyth:

    This is a tricky bird ! Maybe the call is needed. My guess would be that it's a Richard's pipit.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008


    Hi there,
    Colin, you must have surely seen other pics, as the ones in the links are high quality close ups, evidently showing not a meadow, but a Richard┤s type.
    The pale lores rule out Tawny, of course, and the problem here is between a small Richard┤s and a Blyth┤s. I have a lot of experience with Richard┤s, and the bird is clearly not a typical one (but still, to my eyes and ears, a Richard┤s), so I was seeking opinions from birders with a lot of experience with Blyth┤s, which is not my case (Magnus..,) to confirm it┤s a Richard┤s.
    I attach again a picture of the bird, with one of the MCs selected and highlighted. The shape of the dark centre of that MC is clearly typical for richardii, being triangular shaped and occupying more than one half of the feather. Based on my limited experience with blyth┤s, and on all the books and papers published on the subject (specially "pipits and wagtails", which has several drawings of all known MC patterns, as well as some BB articles, etc etc) the shape is all wrong for Blyth┤s, and should rule out the species.
    Apart from that, and as already commented, the bird, in certain postures and pics, and specially when seen distantly, has a blyth┤s "feel", as Ben says, and, because of its size, structure and behaviour, that┤s why I think its such an interesting and educative bird for everyone
    A video can be seen here:

    I have some good ones which I will upload later (the bird I have in one surfbirdsvideo titled "Richard┤s pipit" is NOT this bird)
    However, considering the MC pattern, the contrasting whitish colour of the belly, outer tail feathers pattern, long hind claw, facial pattern and the call, which we heard several times, and I can swear, based on several hundred Richard┤s heard over the last few years (We have 15-20 birds each autumn-winter in my region, and I get to hear each one many times during the months they spend here) that the call was that of a normal Richard┤s, clearly not the disctintive chip-chup, soft, blyth┤s call, nor the other, "richard┤s like" blyth┤s call, which sounds a little bit different, less harsh, than Richard┤s, I conclude this bird has to be a small Richard┤s.
    Any more comments??
    Attached Images Attached Images

  10. #10
    Moderator Brian S's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Suffolk, UK



    I saw these photos on Reservoir Birds late last night - where there is also a Richard's Pipit ( I was struck then most by the head pattern, bill and median coverts (note the asymmetric moult, with no new med coverts on the right wing).

    The supercilium seems quite strong and well-marked, suggesting Richard's more to me - though there is some slight variability; the bill seems stronger - stronger than I would expect from Blyth's; as you say, the new inner coverts look to have more pointed centres than they should for Blyth's - though again this is sometimes hard to judge properly.

    Here are some images of the two, which illustrate the head pattern, bill size and new med covert pattern.

    ]Blyth's - Sweden -
    Ouessant -
    Heligoland - note shape ove centre on new med covert

    Richard's - HK

    I think a really important factor would be the call, which you describe as like a Richard's.

    Brian S

    PS Colin, I'm sorry you're way off with Meadow Pipit.
    Last edited by Brian S; January 13th, 2010 at 08:37 AM. Reason: spelling as usual

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