Bird Sightings : Hebrides : Meadow Pipit
(Titlark, Meadow Pipet, Mip, Mipit, Mippit, Teetick, Hill Sparrow and Moss-creeper)
Anthus pratensis whistleri
Photograph © Suzanne Harris
Croir - Isle of Great Bernera - Outer Hebrides (Western Isles)
26th August 2008
"There were about 30 of these pipits in a flock today, the numbers of meadow pipits have been sharply rising over the last week or so but this is by far the largest flock I have seen in the village in months.
...3 days later and a flock of 200+ were following the shore-line in the same area. Directly after that there were just a few about"
Our Pipit photographs
14 - 15.5cm (Sparrow-sized bird, with the general appearance of a tiny Song Thrush).
There is a lot of variation in the belly colour of Meadow pipits, they range from a grey-brown to a quite bright yellowish-buff against which their dark streaks show strongly.
Legs can be dark brown, and sometimes very reddish.
Meadow Pipits have a narrow pointed beak - the sign of insect eaters. They eat spiders, moths beetles and flies etc.
They show white outer tail feathers when flying (compare to wheatears and stonechats which also have white rumps in flight and are about the same size, but are otherwise visually very different).
It is the Meadow Pipit that flys up then "slowly parachutes down" trilling away in Spring.
They generally have a "seep-seep" call, and will often answer you back if you mimic it.
The Meadow Pipit is often the only bird which we see on the moor in Winter.
Meadow pipits are common breeders in most of the Western Isles.
They prefer the moorland where they nest in the heather, but will also appear in our gardens sometimes, and even in the saltmarsh areas.
The meadow pipit is one of the species which the cuckoo delegates it's parental responsibilities to. Occasionally around the time of the second brood you might see several meadow pipits chasing off a cuckoo.
The Meadow Pipit's typical lifespan is 3yrs (Max recorded is 7yrs 8mths). They breed when one year old.
A meadow pipit lays two clutches of eggs in the breeding season, each clutch is incubated for 13 - 15 days, and the young fledge at 12 - 14 days (BTO).
The meadow pipit is often a host of the cuckoo. Cuckoo eggs are incubated for 11 - 13 days. The young fledge at 17 -21 days. Because the cuckoo egg hatches earlier than the pipit's and the cuckoo chick is very fast growing, it will usually throw out the eggs or young of the pipit by instinct.
Rock pipits, are frequently found here around the rocky shore, they are generally like a very greyish-brown version of a meadow pipit, and have dark legs and a dark bill.
Meadow Pipit records in the Western Isles
Abundant migrant breeder (10,000+ breeding pairs). Uncommon in winter (recorded in low numbers each year)
Source: Outer Hebrides Bird Report (2001)
The population which breeds in the Western Isles is Anthus pratensis whistleri, some of these are resident, and others join the flocks of migrating birds which pass through in July and August. (Anthus pratensis the nominate race likely occurs on migration).
On the chart below the darker the shade of blue the more abundant the bird is during a month or the more likely you are to see it.
(Source: Outer Hebrides Birds Checklist)
Other local bird photographs
Sources of information for the bird sightings section