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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Scandinavian Rock Pipits - Cuckmere Haven

Over the past three days I have come across at least seven different Scandinavian Rock Pipits of all various plumages, some of which are fairly difficult to distinguish from the bog standard Rock Pipit, which again have been seen daily down the Cuckmere, but in less numbers.

The bird photographed a few days ago was the typical spring-plumaged bird, being pinky on the breast, blue/grey head and mantle with whitish outer tail feathers. The following two days I've failed to find this individual (presuming it's probably moved on), and have now been left with some very unmarked individuals which needed much closer scrutiny of plumage features. 

There is a great piece on Scandinavian Rock Pipits on http://www.manchesterbirding.com/logicalityoflittoralisiddocmanchesterbirding.com.pdf which has been helpful to me on the less distinct birds, as before this year I have only seen the summer-plumaged birds, no doubt having missed these due to lack of knowledge. Basically the two features that are fairly reliable are the supercilium and the outer tail, plus the additions of other features cleaning the rest of the identification up. 

Most birds have been seen along the eastern river bank and the small 'saltmarsh' south of the pub. 

Anyway if your're looking for a good sleeping agent, keep scrolling down. 

 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven - 23/3/15
The typical spring/summer-plumaged individual showing the salmon pink breast and belly, blue/grey head, nape and mantle, white outer-tail feathers and dark malar patch (ruling out Water Pipit). Easy peasy!!

 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (24/3/15)
This bird above certainly caused me a headache for a bit, but through the bins the greyish head was rather obvious. There also appears to be a slight pinkish wash around the malar patch. The supercilium is extensive and flares behind the eye, the outer tail feather is white/pale grey, wingbars certainly evident, white throat contrasting with the breast/belly. Close inspection of the scapulars does reveal an amount of grey being concolourous with the head and nape.  The lack of any olive tones to the upperparts is also reassuring. Not the most obvious, but enough for an identification.
 Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
Slightly more advanced bird with plenty of grey on the scapulars, whitish ground colour, flared supercilium behind the eye, two obvious wingbars and the whole of T6 is white.
 presumed Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
Again another tricky one for me. Close ups reveal grey on the scapulars and also the forecrown. Distinct white to the tips of the medium coverts, and again visible is the whole of T6 being white. It does say that summer Rock Pipits can be paler and but with contrasting black legs and bill. So with the legs being pink, one can only assume that this is another Scandinavian Rock Pipit. 
Scandinavian Rock Pipit at Cuckmere Haven (25/3/15)
A nice flared supercilium behind the eye, clear wingbars, plenty of white in the outer-tail feathers, white throat, paler underparts and a hint of grey in the lower scapulars and nape are all very pro features for a Scandinavian Rock Pipit. This individual actually stood out by being a much paler individual.

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