Meadow pipit

The meadow pipit (Anthus pratensis) is a small passerine bird which breeds in much of northwestern Eurasia, from southeastern Greenland and Iceland east to just east of the Ural Mountains in Russia, and south to central France and Romania; there is also an isolated population in the Caucasus Mountains. It is migratory over most of its range, wintering in southern Europe, North Africa and south-western Asia, but is resident year-round in western Europe. However, even here, many birds move to the coast or lowlands in winter.[2][3]

Bird recorded in Surrey, England


Anthus pratensis
A meadow pipit perched on a fishing net

This is a widespread and often abundant small pipit, 14.5–15 cm long and 15–22 g weight. It is an undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly brown above and buff below, with darker streaking on most of its plumage; the tail is brown, with narrow white side edges. It has a thin bill and pale pinkish-yellow legs; the hind claw is notably long, longer than the rest of the hind toe. The call is a weak tsi-tsi. The simple repetitive song is given in a short song flight.[2][3] Birds breeding in Ireland and western Scotland are slightly darker coloured than those in other areas, and are often distinguished as the subspecies Anthus pratensis whistleri, though it intergrades clinally with nominate Anthus pratensis pratensis found in the rest of the species' range.[2][3]

It is similar to the red-throated pipit Anthus cervinus, which is more heavily streaked and (in summer only) has an orange-red throat, and to the tree pipit Anthus trivialis, which is slightly larger, less heavily streaked, and has stronger facial markings and a shorter hind claw. The song of the meadow pipit accelerates towards the end while that of the tree pipit slows down.[2][3]

Distribution and habitat

Anthus pratensis nest 2
Nest with eggs

It is primarily a species of open habitats, either uncultivated or low-intensity agriculture, such as pasture, bogs, and moorland, but also occurs in low numbers in arable croplands. In winter, it also uses saltmarshes and sometimes open woodlands. It is a fairly terrestrial pipit, always feeding on the ground, but will use elevated perches such as shrubs, fence lines or electricity wires as vantage points to watch for predators.[2][3][4]

The estimated total population is 12 million pairs. It is an abundant species in the north of its range, and generally the commonest breeding bird in most of upland Britain, but less common further south. Breeding densities range from 80 pairs per square kilometre in northern Scandinavia, to 5–20 pairs per square kilometre in grassland in the south of the breeding range, and just one pair per square kilometre in arable farmland.[3][4] There are a small number of isolated breeding records from south of the main range, in the mountains of Spain, Italy, and the northern Balkans.[2]

There has been a general decline in the population over the past 17 years, most notable in French farmland, with a 68% drop.[5]


Anthus pratensis MWNH 1590
Eggs, Collection Museum Wiesbaden

Its food is primarily insects and other invertebrates, mostly small items less than 5 mm long. It also eats the seeds of grasses, sedges, rushes and heather, and crowberry berries, mainly in winter.[2][3]


The nest is on the ground hidden in dense vegetation, with 2–7 (most often 3–5) eggs; the eggs hatch after 11–15 days, with the chicks fledging 10–14 days after hatching. Two broods are commonly raised each year. This species is one of the most important nest hosts of the cuckoo, and it is also an important prey species for merlins and hen harriers.[2][3]


The generic name 'pipit', first documented by Thomas Pennant in 1768, is onomatopoeic, from the call note of this species.[6] In colloquial use by birders in the UK the name meadow pipit is often abbreviated to "mippit". Old folk names, no longer used, include "chit lark", "peet lark", "tit lark" and "titling"; these refer to its small size and superficial similarity to a lark.[6] The scientific name is from Latin. Anthus is the name for a small bird of grasslands, and the specific pratensis means "of a meadow ", from pratum, "meadow".[7]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2015). "Anthus pratensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Snow, D. W.; Perrins, C. M. (1998). The Birds of the Western Palearctic (Concise ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-854099-X.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hoyo, J. del; et al., eds. (2004). Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 9. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. p. 763. ISBN 84-87334-69-5.
  4. ^ a b Hagemeijer, W. J. M., & Blair, M. J., eds. (1997). The EBCC Atlas of European Breeding Birds. Poyser, London ISBN 0-85661-091-7.
  5. ^ Gorman, James (2018-04-11). "Farmland Birds in France Are in Steep Decline". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-04-12.
  6. ^ a b Lockwood, W. B. (1984). The Oxford Book of British Bird Names. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-214155-4.
  7. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 49, 315. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.

External links

Bamburgh Dunes

Bamburgh Dunes are a region of coastal sand dunes with an area of over 40 hectares situated around the village of Bamburgh in Northumberland, England. The dunes, which stand in the shadow of the impressive Bamburgh Castle, have been a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) since 1995 and are part of the North Northumberland Dunes Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The dunes have a rich diversity of flora and fauna and in places provide good examples of “climbing dunes” found where sand has been blown onto high ground adjacent to the beach.

Bamburgh Dunes vary from open sandy beaches, through low ridges dominated by marram grass, to more stable grass-covered dunes. These occur as a series of irregular parallel sand ridges and hummocks separated by hollows, which are seasonally wet. Some of the plant species include the pyramidal orchid, Centaurium, sea sandwort and petalwort (which is on the List of endangered species in the British Isles) . The dunes are also rich in rare insect life, over 500 species have been identified including 15 rare species including a plant hopper (Dicranotropis divergens) a grass-mining fly (Opomyza punctata), and a shore fly (Psilopa marginella). Birds attracted to the dunes include grasshopper warbler, sedge warbler, European stonechat, meadow pipit and reed bunting. In winter short-eared owl and water rail are also found.

Over the years more vigorous invasive plant species and scrub have encroached, making the dune system too stabilised and threatening the uniqueness of Bamburgh Dunes, most rare plant species appreciate the unstable and shifting structure of sand dunes. In an effort to counteract this, Bamburgh Castle Estate, English Nature, DEFRA, Northumberland County Council and Bamburgh Parish Council have come up with a plan of management which has resulted in cattle being allowed to graze the dunes since 2000 to break up the dominant grass cover. A fence has been erected to contain the cattle within the dunes, access by people is encouraged within the fenced area with stiles and gates sited on the main paths.

An ancient Anglo-Saxon 7th century burial ground was unearthed in the dunes to the south east of Bamburgh Castle during an archaeological dig in 1998 by the Bamburgh Research Project. The burial ground, called the Bowl Hole, had been known to exist since 1816 when violent storms removed large amounts of dune sand and uncovered the site for a period. The BBC television programme “Meet the Ancestors” became involved during the dig and screened a programme about the finds in February 2001.

Berthelot's pipit

The Berthelot's pipit (Anthus berthelotii) is a small passerine bird which breeds in Madeira and the Canary Islands. It is a common resident in both archipelagos.

Berthelot's pipit is found in open country. The nest is on the ground, with 3-5 eggs being laid.

This is a small pipit, 13-14.5 cm in length. It is an undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly grey above and whitish below, with some breast streaking. It has a whitish supercilium and eyering, with dark eye and moustachial stripes. The sexes are similar, but juveniles are browner than adults.

This species appears shorter tailed and larger headed than meadow pipit. Its call is a "schrip" like yellow wagtail, and the song, given in flight, is a chattery "tsivrr tsivrr tsivrr tsivrr".

This species is named after the French naturalist Sabin Berthelot, one-time resident of the Canary Islands, by Carl Bolle.

Colt Crag Reservoir

Colt Crag Reservoir is a relatively shallow reservoir in Northumberland, England adjacent to the A68 road, and 9 miles (14 km) north of Corbridge. The A68 road at this point runs along the course of Dere Street, a Roman road.

Crompton Moor

Crompton Moor (archaically known as High Moor) is an area of moorland in the South Pennines, in North West England. It lies along the northeastern outskirts of Shaw and Crompton, in the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Spanning approximately 160 acres (65 ha), and reaching an elevation of 1,282 feet (391 m) at Crow Knowl, Crompton Moor is one of the largest open spaces run by Oldham Countryside Service. It is a registered common of Greater Manchester, and a Site of Biological Importance since 2003.

The Friends of Crompton Moor are an active conservation group, who work in partnership with Oldham Countryside Service to maintain and protect this locally unique environment.

Most of Crompton Moor is covered in purple moor grass and heather, but there is also a significant amount of pine forest. Wildlife on the moors includes red grouse, golden plover, and the meadow pipit.An early type of axe known as a palstave has been discovered on Crompton Moor, providing evidence of Bronze Age human activity. During the 18th century Crompton Moor had several farms; dry stone walls still exist from these times as evidence of field division for pasture.

Crow Knowl, at the summit of Crompton Moor, features a transmitter station, Crow Knowl Telecommunications mast, and an Ordnance Survey triangulation station (at grid reference SD960105). Crow Knowl overlooks Rochdale to the northwest, Manchester to the southwest and Denshaw to the east, amongst other parts of Greater Manchester.Crompton Moor has been the site of several wildfires. A significant fire occurred in 1995, raging for over two weeks and burning a large proportion of the surface vegetation as well as the subsurface peat. Another took place in March 2007.

Brushes Clough and Pingot are former coal and sandstone quarries on Crompton Moor. During the 1970s, quarrying was halted, the land was reclaimed, and thousands of pine trees were planted. The area has since been used for recreation, including hiking, orienteering, cycling and horse riding. Brushes Clough Reservoir was constructed in the 19th century by the Oldham County Borough Council, using stone quarried from this site. After being managed by United Utilities for a number of years, the reservoir and some of the surrounding land is now privately owned.An unnamed waterfall (provisionally called Crompton Waterfall) cascades off Crompton Moor into the now unused Pingot Quarry forming the Old Brook, a tributary of the River Beal.

Dithmarscher Eiderwatt

The Dithmarscher Eiderwatt, officially the Dithmarscher Eidervorland mit Watt ("Dittmarschen Eider Foreland and Watt"), is a nature reserve in the districts of Dithmarschen and Nordfriesland in the north German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The site has an area of 620 hectares (1,500 acres) which consists of the mudflats on the tidal current of the river Eider.

The nature reserve is mainly located on the Dithmarschen side of the Eider foreland, from the Eider Barrage to the Eider bridge on the B 5 federal highway near Tönning. It lies within the municipal boundaries of the villages of Wesselburenerkoog and Karolinenkoog, and partly in Tönning (Nordfriesland). On the North Frisian side of the river lies the Katinger Watt area.

The reserve was based on the considerably smaller (19.4 hectares (48 acres)) nature reserve known as the Schülper Neuensiel Bird Reserve which existed from 1930 to 1989. The reserve was expanded in order to moderate the environmental effects of the Eider Barrage which had destroyed large areas of mudflat and salt meadows in the tidal stream of the river Eider and led to a significant reduction in birds of passage. In section 3 of the nature conservation order it states: "The nature reserve enables the retention of a wet area in the tidal saltwaters and brackish waters of the Eider estuary and its mudflat and foreland areas and the conservation of animal and plant habitats typical of such areas, particularly for the wading and water birds that breed here or pass through on migration as well as the invertebrates occurring here." According to the count of breeding birds by NABU, a German nature conservation organisation, in 2006 a total of 35 species (2165 pairs) breed in the reserve. If manmade areas are included, such as around the Eider Barrage, the port of Schülperneuensiel and the Eider bridge, the number rises to 43. Dominant species, with at least 5% of the population, were the black-headed gull (22.2%), avocet (13.9%), lapwing (10.3%), oystercatcher (9.6%), redshank (9.1%), meadow pipit (6.5%) and mallard (5.7%). Subdominant species were the skylark (4.6%), reed bunting (4.2%) and Arctic tern (2.4%); followed by the gadwall (1.9%), shelduck (1.2%) and yellow wagtail (1.3%).

Eurasian rock pipit

The Eurasian rock pipit (Anthus petrosus), or just rock pipit, is a species of small passerine bird that breeds in western Europe on rocky coasts. It has streaked greyish-brown upperparts and buff underparts, and is similar in appearance to other European pipits. There are three subspecies, of which only the Fennoscandian form is migratory, wintering in shoreline habitats further south in Europe. The Eurasian rock pipit is territorial at least in the breeding season, and year-round where it is resident. Males will sometimes enter an adjacent territory to assist the resident in repelling an intruder, behaviour only otherwise known from the African fiddler crab.

Eurasian rock pipits construct a cup nest under coastal vegetation or in cliff crevices and lay four to six speckled pale grey eggs which hatch in about two weeks with a further 16 days to fledging. Although insects are occasionally caught in flight, the pipits feed mainly on small invertebrates picked off the rocks or from shallow water.

The Eurasian rock pipit may be hunted by birds of prey, infested by parasites such as fleas, or act as an involuntary host to the common cuckoo, but overall its population is large and stable, and it is therefore evaluated as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Flói Nature Reserve

The Flói Nature Reserve is a bird and nature reserve located near Árborg municipality in the Southern Region of Iceland. It includes a stretch of the east shore of the Ölfusá River. The reserve measures roughly 1–1.5 km (0.62–0.93 mi) wide by 4.5 km (2.8 mi) long, with an area of about 5 km2 (1.9 sq mi). It is an Internationally Important Bird Area as recognised by BirdLife International. It is all low-lying wetland, on average only 2 m (6.6 ft) above sea level, and is subject to seawater flooding at the spring tide. There are vistas of the surrounding mountains. The reserve establishment began in spring 1997 when Icelandic Society for the Protection of Birds was awarded funding from the Environmental Fund for Trade and its operation has received support from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds from the UK.

Gedser Odde

Gedser Odde on the island of Falster in the Baltic Sea is Denmark's southernmost point. The terminal moraine from Idestrup through Skelby to Gedser is part of the maximum glaciation line across Falster, from Orehoved to Gedser. Fronted by low cliffs, the ridge, 5–7 m (16–23 ft) high, continues underwater a further 18 km (11 mi) south-east to Gedser Rev. Sydstenen (the south stone) marks the southernmost point.

James Seymour Stakes

The James Seymour Stakes is a Listed flat horse race in Great Britain open to horses aged three years or older.

It is run on the Rowley Mile course at Newmarket over a distance of 1 mile and 2 furlongs (2,012 metres), and it is scheduled to take place each year in late October or early November.

The race is named in honour of the equine artist James Seymour (1702-1752).

John Muir Country Park

The John Muir Country Park is an area of woodland, grassland and coastline near Dunbar in East Lothian, Scotland. It is named after John Muir, a famous naturalist and geologist who was born in Dunbar and later emigrated to the United States, where he developed his ideas.

Designated in 1976, the park covers an area of 7.73 km2 (2.98 sq mi), stretching from Belhaven (just outside Dunbar) to Tyninghame. The park is home to a diverse collection of animal species, including several species of butterfly and moth and over 400 species of plants. The park is also ideal for birdwatching, with (depending on the season) kittiwake, eider duck, shelduck, skylark, meadow pipit, ringed plover, gannet, terns, sand martins, crossbill, wigeon, bar-tailed godwit and whooper swan to be seen.

Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common

Leckhampton Hill and Charlton Kings Common (grid reference SO952187) is a 63.8-hectare (158-acre) biological and geological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Gloucestershire, notified in 1954. There are five units of assessment.The site is listed in the 'Cotswold District' Local Plan 2001-2011 (on line) as a Key Wildlife Site (KWS).

List of fauna of the Scottish Highlands

This is a list of fauna of the Scottish Highlands.


The wagtails, longclaws and pipits are a family, Motacillidae, of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. There are around 65 species in 6 genera. The longclaws are entirely restricted to the Afrotropics, and the wagtails are predominantly found in Europe, Africa and Asia, with two species migrating and breeding in Alaska. The pipits have the most cosmopolitan distribution, being found across mostly in the Old World but occurring also in the Americas and oceanic islands such as New Zealand and the Falklands. Two African species, the yellow-breasted pipit and Sharpe's longclaw, are sometimes placed in a separate seventh genus, Hemimacronyx, which is closely related to the longclaws.Most motacillids are ground-feeding insectivores of slightly open country. They occupy almost all available habitats, from the shore to high mountains. Wagtails prefer wetter habitats to the pipits. A few species use forests, including the forest wagtail, and other species use forested mountain streams, such as the grey wagtail or the mountain wagtail.

Motacillids take a wide range of invertebrate prey, especially insects are the most commonly taken, but also including spiders, worms, and small aquatic molluscs and arthropods. All species seem to be fairly catholic in their diet, and the most commonly taken prey for any particular species or population usually reflects local availability.

With the exception of the forest wagtail, they nest on the ground, laying up to six speckled eggs.


The pipits are a cosmopolitan genus, Anthus, of small passerine birds with medium to long tails. Along with the wagtails and longclaws, the pipits make up the family Motacillidae. The genus is widespread, occurring across most of the world, except the driest deserts, rainforests and the mainland of Antarctica.

They are slender, often drab, ground-feeding insectivores of open country. Like their relatives in the family, the pipits are monogamous and territorial. Pipits are ground nesters, laying up to six speckled eggs.


Rakeeranbeg (, [ɹəˌciəɹənˈbeːɟ]), or Rathkeeranbeg (, [ɹaθˌciəɹənˈbeːɟ]; Irish: Ráth Caorthainn Beag, meaning "little fort of the rowan") is a townland in the Dromore area in County Tyrone in Northern Ireland. It is situated in the barony of Omagh East and the civil parish of Dromore and covers an area of 180 acres.

Red-throated pipit

The red-throated pipit (Anthus cervinus) is a small passerine bird which breeds in the far north of Europe and Asia, with a foothold in northern Alaska. It is a long-distance migrant moving in winter to Africa, south and east Asia and west coast United States. It is a vagrant to western Europe.

Tree pipit

The tree pipit (Anthus trivialis) is a small passerine bird which breeds across most of Europe and temperate western and central Asia. It is a long-distance migrant moving in winter to Africa and southern Asia. The scientific name is from Latin. Anthus is the name for a small bird of grasslands, and the specific trivialis means "common", from trivium, "public street".This is a small pipit, which resembles meadow pipit. It is an undistinguished-looking species, streaked brown above and with black markings on a white belly and buff breast below. It can be distinguished from the slightly smaller meadow pipit by its heavier bill and greater contrast between its buff breast and white belly. Tree pipits more readily perch in trees.

The call is a strong spek, unlike the weak call of its relative. The song flight is unmistakable. The bird rises a short distance up from a tree, and then parachutes down on stiff wings, the song becoming more drawn out towards the end.

The breeding habitat is open woodland and scrub. The nest is on the ground, with 4–8 eggs being laid. This species is insectivorous, like its relatives, but will also take seeds.

Warren Hill, Bournemouth

Warren Hill is the elevated part of Hengistbury Head in Dorset, England, overlooking Christchurch to the North and dominating Poole Bay to the West. With finds stretching back over 10,000 years, it is a site of international importance in terms of its archaeology and is scheduled both as an Ancient Monument, and a Local Nature Reserve. The head and its surroundings form part of the Christchurch Harbour Site of Special Scientific Interest. Wind-pruned hummocks of heather cover the plateau of the hill, which is accessible to walkers all year round providing excellent views of the surrounding area, as well as an interesting heathland ecosystem for students of nature.

Water pipit

The water pipit (Anthus spinoletta) is a small passerine bird which breeds in the mountains of Southern Europe and Southern Asia eastwards to China. It is a short-distance migrant; many birds move to lower altitudes or wet open lowlands in winter.

The water pipit in breeding plumage has greyish-brown upperparts, weakly streaked with darker brown, and pale pink-buff underparts fading to whitish on the lower belly. The head is grey with a broad white supercilium ("eyebrow"), and the outer tail feathers are white. In winter, the head is grey-brown, the supercilium is duller, the upperparts are more streaked, and the underparts are white, streaked lightly with brown on the breast and flanks. There are only minor differences between the three subspecies, the sexes are almost identical, and young birds resemble adults. The water pipit's song is delivered from a perch or in flight, and consists of four or five blocks, each consisting of about six repetitions of a different short note.

Water pipits construct a cup-like nest on the ground under vegetation or in cliff crevices and lay four to six speckled grey-ish white eggs, which hatch in about two weeks with a further 14–15 days to fledging. Although pipits occasionally catch insects in flight, they feed mainly on small invertebrates picked off the ground or vegetation, and also some plant material.

The water pipit may be hunted by birds of prey, infested by parasites such as fleas, or act as an involuntary host to the common cuckoo, but overall its population is large and stable, and it is therefore evaluated as a species of least concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).


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