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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

07 November, 2010

Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)

I normally advise new bird watchers to take no notice of a birds English name when trying to identify a new species. For example, you never find Garden Warblers in gardens and Willow Warblers can be seen in trees other than Willows.

For Pipits, however, with other factors taken in to account, it works. There are eight Pipits seen in Dorset. Of these, four are very uncommon and you are unlikely to see Richards, Tawny, Olive Backed or Red Throated - leave those to the experts! That leaves four to choose from.

The Water Pipit is an unusual winter visitor to watercress beds on Dorset's rivers so if you see a Pipit away from this habitat it won't be a Water Pipit. They also turn up around reed beds, especially Lodmore and Christchurch harbour.

Tree Pipits are found on our heaths, usually perched in the occasional birch or pine trees that occur there. They are also summer visitors and easy to match up when you find one thanks to the heath/tree connection.

The Rock Pipit is a Dorset resident all along our rocky sea cliffs and ONLY on our rocky sea cliffs, hence Rock Pipit.

This leaves the Meadow Pipit for everywhere else! Heath, downland, rough pasture, even farmland are its preferred habitats with a marked drift towards coastal regions in autumn and winter. It is also our most common Pipit sometimes appearing in quite large flocks.

This little one (probably not quite an adult because it is still very light underneath) is not by a watercress bed, not in a tree on heathland, and not on rocks, it is on co