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Meadow Pipit/Riabhóg Mhóna (Anthus pratensis) | by Mark Carmody
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Meadow Pipit/Riabhóg Mhóna (Anthus pratensis)

Shorebirds of Ireland, Freshwater Birds of Ireland and The Birds of Ireland: A Field Guide with Jim Wilson.


The Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis) is a small passerine bird which breeds in much of the northern half of Europe and also northwestern Asia, 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 southwestern Asia, but is resident in Ireland, Great Britain, and neighbouring areas of western Europe. However, even here, many birds move to the coast or lowlands in winter. This is a widespread and often abundant small pipit. 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. 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.


The generic name 'pipit', first documented by Thomas Pennant in 1768, is onomatopoeic, from the call note of this species. In colloquial use by birders in Ireland, 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. (wikipedia)


I love hearing the calls of Meadow Pipits during the autumn. For me, it is a real sound of the changing season. With the cold mornings setting in, this Meadow Pipit looked cold when alighting on this storm-damaged tree on North Bull Island, Dublin.

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Taken on September 20, 2020