Rock Pipit

Anthus petrosus

16.5-17cm

Appearance

A bulky pipit that's greyish brown on top with dusky streaks. It is whitish and darkly streaked underneath, particularly on the flanks and breast. There's a pale, subtle supercilium and ring around the eye, the throat is whitish, the legs and bill are dark and the feathers on the outside of the tail are grey. Birds become more uniform grey during winter, and young birds are slightly streakier than adults.

Habitat

Prefers rocky coasts for breeding and is rarely found away from the sea.

Character

Searches for food on rocky territories, hopping between boulders or stones, often perching on larger rocks. Has a songflight typical of pipits which begins from take off, and carries on as the bird gains altitude and then plummets downwards with its wings partially open. May keep the same territory all year round, while some socialise in small groups in the winter. Confiding when compared with other pipits.

Food

Diet includes flies, midges and their larvae, beetles, fish, small shellfish and seeds.

Breeding

Females lay 4 or 5 eggs from April, and do most of the incubating until eggs hatch after about 14-15 days. Both adults feed the young, which depart the nest after about 12 days. Commonly there are two broods over summer.

Population

Majority of breeding Rock Pipits around the region's coasts are resident birds. Some Norwegian birds may visit the region on their winter migration south. In excess of 35 000 pairs are in the UK and 10 000-20 000 in Ireland.

Observation Tips

Commonly found on walks along rocky western and northern coastal areas of the region in spring; its dark plumage can make separation from other pipits more simple.

Voice

Has a singular 'pseet' call, and a song that is quite similar to the Meadow Pipit's, but is bolder and more melodious towards the end.
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