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which pipit is it that visits my garden feeder and also forages at the water line of the North Sea shore? (1 Viewer)

louisthedog

New member
United Kingdom
hello, I'm new to Birdforum and hope this is the correct way to ask a question. I live 20 metres from the North Sea coast in Cromer, North Norfolk and see what I believe to be rock pipits just a few metres from my house, foraging on the flint rocks and amongst the dead seaweed on the shore. The same birds - I believe - also gorge themselves with dried mealworms in my garden. Neither rock nor meadow pipits are famous for visiting urban gardens. Beak and legs point to meadow pipit, but I'm right in the centre of the town with no wild meadow/ woodland anywhere near. Any suggestions?
 

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Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
Hello welccome to birdforum!
Both are Meadow Pipits:
first one has bright pinkish-orange legs, whitish belly and is lacking olive tones to visible upperparts (warm buffish-brown tones are good for Meadow Pipit, a specires that has great variation regarding colours)
second one is a harder bird (at least for me), but leg colour and contrasting blackish streaks on back with just discernable pale cream tramlines makes this another Meadow Pipt for me.
 

Redmist

Member
Supporter
Norway
Hi Louis, I had a similar question on here recently so did lots of reading and received some good advice. I agree with Alexander that these are meadow pipit, but that doesn't mean that you don't have a mixed group of meadow and rock pipits by the coast. I've seen quite a few mixed groups this winter with plenty of meadows foraging along the beaches and rocks.
 

louisthedog

New member
United Kingdom
Many thanks for your help in this - never heard of mixed groups of pipits before, very interesting. Do you mean they would actually forage together on the shore?
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
Many thanks for your help in this - never heard of mixed groups of pipits before, very interesting. Do you mean they would actually forage together on the shore?
Hi Louis

Rock Pipits tolerate the incursion of Meadow Pipits onto the same areas of shore habitat in Winter but Rock Pipits are certainly the more feisty and will outcompete Meadow Pipit in harsh winters where food is not so abundant. However, Meadow Pipits will also supplement their diets with seed so not as restricted in their choice of foraging habitat (or mealworms it seems 😉!)

If you get yourself up to Hunstanton cliffs, you have a good chance of seeing both species feeding along there.

Edit - reading your post again, I’m thinking you have in mind flocks of RP mixing with other flocks of Meadow Pipit feeding side by side, so just to add, in my experience, Rock Pipit are solitary feeders, (unlike Meadow Pipits who do feed in flocks) and also rather territorial over feeding spots, so while they tolerate Meadow Pipits in the same area, they won’t usually be feeding literally side by side with them or for that matter with other Rock Pipits.
 
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Redmist

Member
Supporter
Norway
As Deb says "flock" would be exaggerating it, but this winter in cold weather I have seen loose groups of 10-15 RPs feeding on the shore and fields next to the shore, sometimes with one or two MPs as well. The most I found in a single picture was 4 RPs sitting on a harbour wall but they're also often feeding alone or in pairs too. I don't have a picture of RP and MP in the same view and MPs are in the minority in these small groups, like they're hanging around trying to fit in with the rest of the pipit gang. My point was not to exclude the chance that you might have a few meadows in your area by the coast as well, even though your photos were rock pipits.
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
As Deb says "flock" would be exaggerating it, but this winter in cold weather I have seen loose groups of 10-15 RPs feeding on the shore and fields next to the shore, sometimes with one or two MPs as well.
That’s an interesting observation, where were these sightings? Fairly unusual in my experience to get high density groups of Rock Pipit like that within a small area - it’s usually Meadow Pipits that feed in groups of that size. I wonder then perhaps they could have been Scandinavian migrants moving through - they are fairly faithful to winter feeding areas though so they should be back next winter - or if not migrants, our own Rock Pipits, which are generally sedentary as well as being faithful to winter feeding sites, so you should be able to see them at that location in the same densities year round.

By the way, did you ever submit your Norweigen Water Pipit/Meadow Pipit to a rarities committee for confirmation of the ID and to report the sighting ?
 
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pianoman

duck and diver, bobolink and weaver
I'm used to seeing single or small numbers of Rock Pipit feeding on the rocks on my patch, along with Turnstones. But I was surprised when visiting a coastal area last summer in Clare, in the west of Ireland, to see much larger numbers of RP around the extensive rock pools. You could definitely call them flocks. So it seems the abundance varies considerably with location
 

Deb Burhinus

Used to be well known! 😎
Europe
I'm used to seeing single or small numbers of Rock Pipit feeding on the rocks on my patch, along with Turnstones. But I was surprised when visiting a coastal area last summer in Clare, in the west of Ireland, to see much larger numbers of RP around the extensive rock pools. You could definitely call them flocks. So it seems the abundance varies considerably with location
In winter and Summer the West Coast of Ireland (and Scotland) have the highest number of both breeding and wintering Rock Pipit - supplemented by influxes of Scandinavian in the winter. I have certainly seen high numbers of RP in these regions ie spread along the rocks and beaches but not feeding in what I would call a flock ie moving as a group, taking off and landing together moving from spot to spot as you would see a ‘feeding flock’ of Meadow Pipits.
 

pianoman

duck and diver, bobolink and weaver
Thanks Debs - true, this was in the summer. They didn't really move as a group but were tolerant of each other it seemed. The sandstone and limestone coastline of W Clare probably suits them particularly well.
 

Redmist

Member
Supporter
Norway
My observations of small groups were on the rocky coastline of southwest norway in December/January. I don't know whether these are migrants from further north or residents in the south although one was ringed so I am hoping to get back some information. Usually in the summer I have only seen them in 1s and 2s.

And thanks for the reminder to submit the possible water pipit to the recorders - it seems there are less than 10 per year nationally so a nice one to report.
 

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Supporter
Scotland
Where I go birding (NE Scotland) Rock Pipits tend to form small flocks (10-15) at high tide when they move more onto the land. At low tide they're normally more spread out but will gather a bit more in favourable feeding spots e.g. along the strandline when a lot of seaweed has been washed up. Meadow Pipits (as well as other birds e.g. wagtails) will often join them in these situations.
 

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