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 Post subject: Pipit, Buffy
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:50 pm 
I have to be the stupidest person alive :roll: …here I have all those great tips given by Deefstes….I also have Roberts’ MM, Roberts field guide and a Sasol field guild…yet I cannot ID a Pipit….honestly, it is birdies like these that will make me opt for another hobby. :cry: :wall:

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Please help my out of my misery! :pray:
I saw the follow Pipit in Mokala, beginning of September. It was in an open area near a waterhole (close to a rocky outcrop) and unfortunately I cannot remember how much it waged its tail nor how it sat (horizontal or upright)…but after doing much reading I know I will have to look at things like this in future.

OK, so what I see on this bird:
The breast is very lightly streaked (nothing on flanks)
In my eyes, the mantle is not streaked….and as for the colour, eish….lightish brownish?
Colour of underparts…buff/yellowish
The colour of the bill…now this is a bit confusing…..the lower mandible looks almost pink with the gape looking almost yellow….or is just my eyes?
Cropped close-up
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The colour of outer tail rectrices looks to me almost buff….not white
Cropped close-up:
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If the lower mandible is indeed pinkish, then I suppose there are only 2 options (considering the Pipits found in this region): Buffy and Long-billed Pipit.
The Long-billed has a streaked mantle and distinctive malar strip….my bird’s malar stripe is not that bold.
So that leaves me with Buffy Pipit…right?...not? :?


Last edited by Jumbo on Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:12 pm 
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Aha, now here's a nice Pipit challenge again :D Good on you Jumbo for making detailed notes and offering a few pics. I'm hesitant to make a call on the ID right away but my immediate impression is that it is indeed a Buffy Pipit.

I don't have a lot of time right now but I will come back and have a better look. For now I'll just make one or two comments.

You correctly point out that Long-billed Pipit has a streaked mantle and distinct malar stripe. I'm not sure in what sort of habitat you saw the bird but you could probably rule out Long-billed Pipit based on the habitat as well. They have a strong preference for hilly terrain and almost always for an area with exposed rocks or boulders.

Personally I don't set all that much store by the colour of the base of lower mandible when ID'ing Pipits. I know that it is a documented feature but I have encountered too many anomalies and I've heard Pipit experts say the same thing. I guess what I'm saying is that, while it can be used as one more feature in the ID process, I don't think it should top the list.

But yes, your bird has an unstreaked back which, combined with the distribution and habitat (at least what I can see from the pics) would point very strongly towards Plain-backed Pipit or Buffy Pipit.

And there you have it, we're back to the two most difficult Pipits to seperate :mrgreen:

But for what it's worth, I'll go with Buffy Pipit for now.

*EDIT* O yes, another feature of your bird which strongly suggests Buffy Pipit to me is the bulge-breasted appearance. Plain-backed Pipit is more of a dainty looking Pipit. Not only are they smaller than Buffy but they also seem to be a little more slender overall. These type of features are very relative though - but such are pretty much all of the features when it comes to Pipits.

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Last edited by deefstes on Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:58 am 
deefstes wrote:
You correctly point out that Long-billed Pipit has a streaked mantle and distinct malar stripe. I'm not sure in what sort of habitat you saw the bird but you could probably rule out Long-billed Pipit based on the habitat as well. They have a strong preference for hilly terrain and almost always for an area with exposed rocks or boulders.


The environment in Mokala is like a mixture between the Kalahari and Bushveld…it has open grassland and open sandy areas. BUT, it also have a lot of rocky hills….I took the following photo at the same spot where I photographed the Pipit.

Image

deefstes wrote:
Personally I don't set all that much store by the colour of the base of lower mandible when ID'ing Pipits. I know that it is a documented feature but I have encountered too many anomalies and I've heard Pipit experts say the same thing.


Don’t tell me that!! Eish…how will I then ever tell them apart?!? :shock: The first time I looked at the Pipit section in my guide I thought they did me in….3 pages full of the same bird! :roll: :lol:

deefstes wrote:
*EDIT* O yes, another feature of your bird which strongly suggests Buffy Pipit to me is the bulge-breasted appearance. Plain-backed Pipit is more of a dainty looking Pipit. Not only are they smaller than Buffy but they also seem to be a little more slender overall. These type of features are very relative though - but such are pretty much all of the features when it comes to Pipits.


Now this is a good tip…I have six photos of the birds and in all the photos the breast do appear “puffed” up…BUT….the photos were taken early morning and it was quite chilly…..the bird might have also been puffed up due to the cold? :?

I have learned something here tho….for me to ID these type of birds in the field will not be possible…I’m far away from having that skill. :redface: I think however that in future, apart from just taking photos, I should also take a small piece of video where I can afterwards look at the behaviour and possibly listen to its call.


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 9:34 am 
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Jumbo wrote:
I have learned something here tho….for me to ID these type of birds in the field will not be possible…

I agree that pipits are close to impossible to ID, but I think they are sometimes more doable in the field, where you can study tail wagging, calls and other particular behaviour. Video might be the way forward though...


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:16 am 
JoelR wrote:
I agree that pipits are close to impossible to ID, but I think they are sometimes more doable in the field, where you can study tail wagging, calls and other particular behaviour. .


Before one however can attempt to make an ID in the field you need to know what to look at…and this is why the info all you clever people share on this forum, is so valuable to a plebe like me….now I will know what to focus my attention on :D 8)


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:26 am 
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Jumbo wrote:
I took the following photo at the same spot where I photographed the Pipit.
Image


Hmm, that doesn't look like bad habitat for Long-billed Pipit but perhaps even better still for Striped Pipit, of course both of which are ruled out in your instance based on the unstreaked mantle (and undersides).

Jumbo wrote:
deefstes wrote:
Personally I don't set all that much store by the colour of the base of lower mandible when ID'ing Pipits. I know that it is a documented feature but I have encountered too many anomalies and I've heard Pipit experts say the same thing.

Don’t tell me that!! Eish…how will I then ever tell them apart?!? :shock: The first time I looked at the Pipit section in my guide I thought they did me in….3 pages full of the same bird! :roll: :lol:

:lol: Good one. I don't want to come across as saying that you should disregard that feature altogether but just be cognizant of the fact that the colour of the lower mandible base can at times be influenced by the angle of sunlight and a number of other factors. Here's what Faansie Peacock has to say on the matter.
Faansie Peacock wrote:
Traditionally one of the important characters used to tell Buffy and Plain-backed Pipits apart is the colour of the base of the lower mandible. In Buffy Pipits this appears pink while in Plain-backed Pipits the colour is yellowish. However, this feature is usually almost impossible to see in the field and is probably also influenced by e.g. blood circulation and ambient temperature.

and
Faansie Peacock wrote:
A handy field tip is that the yellow colour of Plain-backed Pipits' bills tends to contrast more with the rest of the bill, so if the bill appears rather uniform it is likely that it actually has a pink base. However, ID should not be based solely on this!


Jumbo wrote:
Now this is a good tip…I have six photos of the birds and in all the photos the breast do appear “puffed” up…BUT….the photos were taken early morning and it was quite chilly…..the bird might have also been puffed up due to the cold? :?

Your bird doesn't look particularly puffed up though. When birds puff their feathers they typically have a "softer" appearance if that makes any sense. It's as if the feathers look a bit more "downy". Not sure if I'm making any sense here.

But seeing as you have 6 pics, why don't you post all of them. In fact, I'd like to encourage other posters who are posting pics of Pipits (or any other bird for that matter) to post as many pics as possible (and reasonable, I guess :wink: ). Especially with Pipits, it definitely helps to have more pictures as one might just show something that the others don't and combined the six different images often give a better feel for the bird's giss.

Having said all that, I have to add that I've had a closer look at your bird and I'm becoming more convinced that it is indeed a Buffy Pipit.

Jumbo wrote:
I have learned something here tho….for me to ID these type of birds in the field will not be possible…I’m far away from having that skill. :redface:

Rubbish! It might take you another while but you will get there. If you can bare in mind that even the best birders struggle with Pipits and if you can accept that some Pipits you'll just have to let go unidentified, but keep trying next time you see a Pipit, you WILL eventually develop a feel for them.

I had two stark reminders of this on BBD and on one of our BBD recces (both times in Polokwane NR). On BBD we saw a Pipit which offered this classical Buffy vs. Plain-backed challenge. I was in the car with three other birders for whom I have a world of admiration and between the four of us we just could not decide on the ID. It took us quite a while to agree on the ID of Buffy Pipit.

During one of the recces we saw another Pipit which had the most unusual streaking but was just too big for a Bushveld Pipit. We had a strong suspicion that it could be a Tree Pipit (!!!) but just could not conclusively decide that it was indeed a Tree Pipit. We ultimately had to let the bird go unidentified (to my tremendous frustration) and in retrospect I think there may be a very good chance that it actually was a very young African Pipit.

Jumbo wrote:
I think however that in future, apart from just taking photos, I should also take a small piece of video where I can afterwards look at the behaviour and possibly listen to its call.

True, this might help. Just remember that video clips are often not of very good quality and while it certainly will help to see the bird's behaviour and possibly pick up the call, it might not show the salient features (like the colour of the base of the lower mandible). Ideally, I'd think you'd want to have pictures AND video.

Just as an aside, while I'm a big proponent of using bird call to assist in the ID, I should perhaps add that with Buffy and Plain-backed Pipits it is not typically a tool that I often use. This is not because their calls are indistinguishable but more so because they are just not very vocal birds. Regardless though, if you get a video clip that captures the call you'll nail the ID in no time.

As JoelR correctly points out, Pipits certainly are a fair bit easier when you see them in the field (as compared to photographs). With Buffy and Plain-backed for instance I think the tail wagging is probably the strongest feature on which they can be separated. I'm not necessarily referring to the amount of tail wagging but rather the type of tail wagging. Plain-backed Pipit tend to just dip the tail (almost wagtail like) while Buffy Pipit tend to dip the entire rear side of the body, they certainly have a more pronounced way of wagging the tail.

Of course this is not always the case with all birds (there's always a catch isn't there :roll:) and some Buffy Pipits don't necessarily dip their tail so pronounced but when you see a Pipit with that very pronounced dipping of the tail you will know that it can't be anything other than a Buffy Pipit.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:12 pm 
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Deefstes, Thank you so much for all the information!. I will also try and get the book you suggested. Many thanks! :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 1:52 pm 
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Yolandé Oelsen wrote:
Deefstes, Thank you so much for all the information!. I will also try and get the book you suggested. Many thanks! :thumbs_up:

Check out http://www.pipits.co.za. I honestly think this is an indispensable tool for any birder who has hopes of getting to know Pipits.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 3:05 pm 
I’m finding this discussion really helpful …thank you Deefstes. :clap:
Thank you also to for the link to the Pipit guide…its seems like something worth getting! 8)

deefstes wrote:
When birds puff their feathers they typically have a "softer" appearance if that makes any sense. It's as if the feathers look a bit more "downy". Not sure if I'm making any sense here.


You make perfect sense…now I understand and after looking at all the pix….only the breast seems “bulky”….I suppose if the bird was really puffed up its back would also have shown this.

deefstes wrote:
But seeing as you have 6 pics, why don't you post all of them.


Here we go, the other 4 (not all in focus tho :redface: )

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deefstes wrote:
We ultimately had to let the bird go unidentified (to my tremendous frustration) and in retrospect I think there may be a very good chance that it actually was a very young African Pipit.


ID’ing a juvenile Pipit?!? :big_eyes: …..I think a root channel will be less painful. :lol:

I hear what you say and I think with all these pointers in mind, I will certainly in future give it a try in the field.

deefstes wrote:
With Buffy and Plain-backed for instance I think the tail wagging is probably the strongest feature on which they can be separated. I'm not necessarily referring to the amount of tail wagging but rather the type of tail wagging. Plain-backed Pipit tend to just dip the tail (almost wagtail like) while Buffy Pipit tend to dip the entire rear side of the body, they certainly have a more pronounced way of wagging the tail.


Now this is yet another great piece of info…the guide books just mention tail wagging…but if one do not know HOW the tail should be “wagged” then you are going to misinterpret this behaviour. :?


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - LBJs
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 4:31 pm 
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Thanks Deefstes for the link! I have just ordered my book! Pipits here I come..... :twisted:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 1:04 am 
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Please help!
Seen in NW Province.
The second and third pic's possibly the same bird? :?

Image
Image

Thanks :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 12:13 pm 
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Hi Rosemary,

The Raptor looks like a Steppe Buzzard - Pale Rufous form.

The pipit I'd guess is Buffy Pipit - Pink base to the bill and plain (not streaked) back.

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:06 pm 
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RosemaryH wrote:
Please help!
Seen in NW Province.
The second and third pic's possibly the same bird? :?

Image
Image

Thanks :thumbs_up:


RosemaryH,

2&3- the same bird yes, I agree Buffy Pipit :thumbs_up:


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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sat Nov 14, 2009 7:46 pm 
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Thanks Lizet Grobbelaar :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: Identification Help - General Birds
Unread postPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 12:20 pm 
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I agree with Buffy Pipit

* Fairly monotone back
* Lack of streaking
* Whitish breast


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