Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Meadow Pipit race ?

Meadow Pipit at Castle Carr Road on 19th March. In the field appeared a very bright peachy orange on the breast, remember talking to DJS about it at the time but thought nothing more of it until I saw Andys link to Icelandic Meadow Pipit. Any thoughts !


AndyC said...

Looks very bright and orange breast...well worth keeping your eye in , Greenland Wheatears next.......

AndyC said...

In the article it noted that Cramp et al. (1988) gives the range of whistleri as Ireland and western Scotland. It describes it as
‘ on average deeper and redder olive-brown above [than nominate pratensis], and with slightly heavier black streaks; streaks on underparts similar to typical nominate pratensis from Scandinavia, but ground colours on chest sides of breast, and flanks markedly deeper, cinnamon-buff. East from western Scotland, populations gradually paler, and birds from USSR on average paler and greyer than Scandinavian ones, but difference very slight. Birds from Iceland and Greenland similar to Scandinavian birds, not to whistleri. Population from western Ireland an average slightly darker than those from western Scotland and hence sometimes separated as theresae, but differences slight and variation within Britain and Ireland gradual, thus theresae does not warrant recognition.

Cramp et al. also states ‘In fresh plumage from August to mid-winter, noticeably more richly coloured than nominate pratensis, being more rufous above and much less white below, with pink-buff (not yellow-buff) suffusion. Such birds can look startlingly different from more olive or paler brown individuals of nominate pratensis and may resemble A.travialis [Tree pipit] and A.cervinus [Red-throated Pipit]’.

His conclusion was that these distinctive birds were difficult to assign and could possibly be richly coloured whistleri race birds at the extreme end of the form, or that they were individuals of Meadow Pipits showing erythrism (excess red pigmentation). As I was convinced that it was a bird of this type that I had seen at Madryn, I began to take particular note of Meadow Pipits as they passed through each spring as well as having a good look at Meadow pipits while visiting the west of Ireland and have come across birds showing a buffy orange tone on a few occasions, especially in March or early April. However, I have not seen a bird as extreme as the 2010 Orme bird. In Porters article, he notes that McGeehan or Mullarney had never come across such an extreme bird as the Blakeney Point bird in their native Ireland, strengthening the thought that these birds have a pigmentation irregularity.