Champions of the Flyway!

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Scandinavian Rock Pipits, Filey - 26th March '24

A couple of hours spare, a rare break in the crappy weather (mild, bright, almost windless - was it all a dream?), and a wander up around the North Cliff area here in Filey, specifically on the hunt for Scandinavian Rock Pipits (ssp littoralis).
This is the time of year when, for a short period, it's worth looking for obvious, well-marked littoralis - late enough to be showing varying signs of breeding plumage, but just before they make the short hop over the North Sea back to Scandinavia. Specifically those features include a greyish cast to the head, a pale supercilium, a warm wash to the breast and belly, neater streaking on the underparts (and especially flanks), and paler / whiter outer-tail feathers and wing bars.
They're very variable and some can still appear very muted (and some won't develop the above features at all); hence, it's always a joy when you come across nice, obvious ones with most or all of the above features, as I did today - two birds, one a bit more strongly marked than the other, and both in a spot they've favoured in previous springs. Both were also some distance from the local breeding petrosus (of which there are two pairs, both actively territorial and in the seasonal swing of things), in safer company with a male White Wagtail.