ID these pipits, please
We saw these pipits at Nare Head in Cornwall at the end of March. There was about seven of them in a field shortly after a heavy hail shower. We’re trying to find out if they are Rock Pipits perhaps?) or Water Pipits. They look too streaky for the latter. Penny Insole, Bristol
QWe often say that you should trust your instincts, and we think yours are spot on in this case. These birds do indeed look a bit too streaky and, indeed, smudgy to be Water Pipits, which at one point were considered a subspecies of Rock Pipit rather than as a species in their own right. We’d expect Water Pipits to look a bit ‘cleaner’, whereas on these birds the flank streaks are blurring into one another, which definitely points towards these being the much more commonly seen Rock Pipit. As to whether these birds are British natives (ssp petrosus) or Scandinavian visitors (ssp littoralis), with the birds still in their winter coats it’s difficult to tell; but littoralis has been recorded at Nare Head in the past, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility.