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What Pipit, that's the question?

What Pipit, that's the question?
Photo Information
Copyright: Bengt Falke (falke) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 153 W: 18 N: 479] (1863)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2007-11-24
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 40 D, Canon 300/4 L IS USM + EF 1.4 ext. II
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2007-11-30 8:51
Viewed: 4141
Points: 22
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I need your help to be able to decide if this is a Water Pipit or a Rock Pipit. I find it somewhere in between....

We have just arrived back home after a few days on Ireland. Our son is working there at the moment and we rented a car and went together to the west coast to experience the amazing nature there and, listen to some good traditional music and drink some good beer. We got it all... ;o)

The plumage in all points at Rock pipit but the bill, legs and breast at Water pipit. I am not that familiar with these so I need some help from you.

Geographic info:
This is from the west coast of Ireland. Near the port of the small village of Doolin there are some remarkable limestone cliffs. They break up into formations when they meet the atlantic.

Technical information:
Canon 300/f4 lens + 1,4 extender on a Canon 40D body, in rawformat. I used Adobe Lightroom for some adjustments before the edit in Photoshop CS3.

Just crop, white balance and a bit hue.
Noise reduction with Noiseware professional
Sharpening with Photokit capture sharpener

About the specie:
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The Rock Pipit, Anthus petrosus, is a small passerine bird which breeds on rocky coasts of western Europe northwards from Brittany. It is mainly resident in Ireland, Great Britain and France, in the west of its range, but the Scandinavian and Russian populations migrate south in winter.

Like most other pipits, this is undistinguished looking species on the ground, mainly dark brown above and heavily streaked buff below. It has dark legs, pale grey outer tail feathers and a longish dark bill. Its dark plumage is an adaptation to the rocky coasts on which it breeds and winters.

West European birds (race petrosus) remain dark grey-buff all year. Scandinavian and Baltic Sea birds (race littoralis) may show pinkish underparts and a pale supercilium in summer, thus resembling the closely related Water Pipit, with which Rock Pipit was previously considered conspecific (Sangster et al., 2002); they are usually indistinguishable from petrosus in winter.

Judging from external (Alström & Mild, 1987) and molecular (Voelker, 1999) characteristics, this species and the Water Pipit are very closely related. They can be told apart by their song (Leonovich et al, 1997), and while they may be found in the same general area occasionally, they do not utilize the same habitat (Bijlsma, 1977). Rock Pipits tend to be found along rocky coasts whereas Water Pipits favour damp grassland. The Rock Pipit is a much tamer bird than the Water Pipit; if startled, it flies a fairly short distance, close to the ground, before it lands again.

This species is insectivorous. Its call is an explosive "fit". The song, as in many pipits, is a series of "blocks" of repeated more or less shrill cheeping single or double notes; it ends on a trill and has usually fewer, but longer-lasting "blocks" (a dozen repetitions or more) than in the Water Pipit.

JoseMiguel, earthtraveler, Ena, Argus, mecamich, Merlin has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hi Bengt,
I like so much this clear capture of the bird.
An elegant pose in which we can delight with its feather's details.
It's so good the way you managed to build the composition with the orange stripes seen at the back.
Congratulations and thanks for share it.
My best regards,

Hi Bengt,
Fine Pipit image.
Great POV, focus details, and the Bg adds some additional interesting color and pattern. Good use of DOF.

  • Great 
  • cloud Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 497 W: 111 N: 1535] (9539)
  • [2007-11-30 11:19]

Hello Bengt,
Excellent sharpness, you see details of plumage with natural colours, very good bg and POV.
Regards, Pawel

  • Great 
  • Ena Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 324 W: 61 N: 594] (2454)
  • [2007-11-30 11:48]

Hello Bengt,
Very nice shot with good details.
This is not a Water Pipit, neither a Rock Pipit. They both have dark beak and legs. I'll try to find out the specie when I find some time!
Best wishes

Very fine detailed shot. Pretty sure its a Rock Pipit

Hej Bengt
I think this is how American Pipit or Anthus rubescens looks in the winter but not 100% sure. Nice details and pose on this one and welcome back to grey Swedish weather.

  • Great 
  • Argus Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5038 W: 260 N: 15594] (50626)
  • [2007-11-30 12:07]

Hej Bengt,
Judginging by the white outer tail feathers, the obvious light wingbars, the stripe over the eye, I would say that this is a young Water Pipit (Vattenpiplärka).
Nice sharp capture with a good pose showing all the features against a suitable blurred natural BG.
Well done and TFS!
Best wishes, Ivan

Bonjour ,joli ce petit qui à l'air de surveiller tes fait et geste.Les couleurs sont belle et j'aime bien ce petit rayon de soleil qui éclaire sa tête.Bravo et merci


I like this image,
Great detail,
Not sure of the name,
But great image,


bookmarking - don't have time now - will look later

Hi, Bengt:
This is, as you suspected, a Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus petrosus, and not an unusually marked one either. The most distinctive feature of the Water Pipit is the pale supercilium (stripe above the eye), but the Rock Pipit has a complete, obvious eye ring and indistinct supercilium. The colours, including the bill, are also pretty classic Rock Pipit. The legs look a little pale, but I think that can be attributed to the lighting/exposure conditions. You may wish to compare with this photograph? The Water Pipit is a rare visitor to Ireland, and occurs in different habitats to the Rock Pipit.
Go easy on the Guinness ;)


  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2007-12-01 5:32]

Hello Bengt,
Beautiful photo of this Pipit. Very good sharpness and great clear colours. Nice pose and composition.

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