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Pipit, Short-tailed

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa
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Johan van Rensburg
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Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by Johan van Rensburg » Sun Feb 02, 2014 4:33 pm

Short-tailed Pipit is now officially my toughest tick! Since its presence along the Old Verena Road was first noted and news started doing the rounds late in October last year, I have been to this site no fewer than 12 times! After having had a pretty good look at this diminutive pipit today, I now realize that I have had glimpses of them during some of my visits. Every time it was a fleeting view, leaving my too unsure to list a tick; certainly leaving me without photographic evidence. Not much seemed different this morning. Did I see them? After 30 minutes of staking out the reputed STP site, I decided to move on. Just over the hill I encountered a small 4x4 with a SABAP2 sticker on the door. I pulled up alongside and after introductions I enquired if the two birding brothers have had any luck with the pipits. They confirmed fleeting glimpses some way off the road at the usual site, remotivating me to try my luck again.

This time I stopped on the shoulder of the road right at the given GPS coordinates and got out of the car, camera set up and ready. A few birds of bishop-like proportions whirred around overhead and in the perfect morning light I noticed the white outer tail feathers!


Then, one of the blighters alighted mere metres away, looked left and right and was off in two seconds, during which I managed to get three pix!


In the darkroom I immediately noticed the bird was a youngster. Not that I mind… It gave me some of the best STP images anyone managed this season.

Anthus brachyura is one of the world’s rarest pipit species. In South Africa it is an uncommon, localised, breeding Red Data species listed as Vulnerable. However, because of its shy and secretive habits, it is overlooked to a great extent. Unlike many other pipit species they seldom venture out into the open, preferring to remain in their short grassy environment.

During the early summer the environment at the Verena site is prime short-tailed pipit habitat with steep slopes covered in short vegetation. Now, late summer, it is very difficult to spot these cautious birds in the tall grass, but they are obviously still around.

Experienced birders will tell you that you will be lucky to get fleeting glimpses of flushed birds, and probably at best you'll get distant views of them doing aerial cruises over short grassland. Take the case of Lizet Grobbelaar, for instance… STP was her 858th southern African tick! She has been birding (me ducking ‘n klap) for a lo-o-o-ong time!
Last edited by Johan van Rensburg on Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:08 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by hilda » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:36 pm

Congratulations Johan! Visiting that site for the 13th time was definitely worth the while! :clap: :clap:

Beautiful picture of the Short-tailed Pipit too! :dance: :dance:
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Re: Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by barryels » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:40 pm

Congrats JVR :clap: :clap: . I know how much you wanted to tick this one :dance: .
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Re: Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by Imax » Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:54 pm

Well done Johan, and you got a killer shot :thumbs_up:

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Re: Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by Eugene123 » Sun Feb 02, 2014 6:40 pm

Well done Johan. I've tried 3 times, yesterday being the last time, without succcess. Maybe next time.
Luckily Sand Martin further alond the road made up for the disappointment
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Re: Pipit, Short-tailed

Unread post by DotDan » Mon Feb 03, 2014 8:14 am

Wow JVR.. fantastic shot!! :D

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