Field identification of rock and water pipit Identifier le Pipit spioncelle Anthus spinoletta et les deux races du Pipit maritime A petrosus
Ornithos. Juillet-Aout; 114: 166-183
Following ringing recoveries and recent observations of Rock Pipit of the northern race littoralis along the Mediterranean coast and in continental France, identification of these taxa is discussed. In the breeding season, Water Pipit Anthu s spi noletta and the two sub-species of Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus - nominate petrosus and littoralis - are generally easy to separate. Furthermore, their breeding ranges are widely separated, minimizing the risks of confusion. in the non-breeding period, and especially during the spring, identification is much more complex. Littoralis shows features intermediate between Water Pipit and nominate petrosus. It is notably in spring, when birds are acquiring their breeding plumage, that the risks of confusion are most likely. Compared to Water Pipit, Rock Pipit of the race littoral is is more heavily built. Edges of outermost tail feathers are greyish-cream, a little whiter towards the tip (pure white in Water Pipit). Moreover littoral is shows less contrast between the greyish crown and greenish grey mantle (compared to a strong contrast between grey crown and brown mantle in spinoletta), a brownish-grey rump slightly tinged olive (warm brown rump in spinoletta), narrower and duller wingbars, narrower and less well-marked whitish supercilium (well-defined white supercilium in spinoletta), a molar stripe which is present in the breeding plumage (molar stripe absent in full breeding plumage in spinoletta), underparts with numerous faint streaks persist in the breeding plumage on the flanks and breast (sharper and narrower streaks on the breast in spinoletta, but absent in full breeding plumage). Finally, the belly and undertail coverts are tinged pale yellowish in littoralis, whilst these are white in Water Pipit.In autumn and winter, separating the two sub-species of Rock Pipit is very difficult or impossible. Littoral is tends to show inter-mediate features between nominate Rock Pipit and Water Pipit.