Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Pipits: Paddyfield, Richard's and Blyth's

I've noticed that more and more Malaysian birders are looking critically at pipits these days, in the hope of finding something other than the 'default' species, Paddyfield Pipit.

This is good!

There are no confirmed records of Richard's Pipit in Peninsular Malaysia or Singapore, and its status in Borneo is unclear. However, as a common and widespread northern breeder migrating to South-east Asia and the Indian subcontinent, it must surely occur.

The trick though, will be to see and hear one well enough to 'clinch the record'. Field observation skills, meticulous note-taking, photography and sound recording, and an obliging bird, will all be critical factors in getting this one 'in the bag'! Anyone up for the challenge?

Blyth's Pipit is, on the face of it, the least likely of the three species to occur, yet at least one has definitely done so (account here), so why not again?

My good friend Peter Harris recently sent me a couple of great photos of Richard's Pipit taken in Hong Kong this winter, and he's allowed me to post them here.

Having spent many hours recently scrutinizing pipits, I am pleasantly surprised how distinctively different this looks from Paddyfield, though, of course, a clear hear of the call would be needed to make absolutely sure.

Below is a comparison of the three species, to give you a few tips to get you started on the hunt for Messrs Richard and Blyth!

Blyth's (left), Paddyfield (centre) and Richard's (right).

I hope the table below is legible. I've had to import it as an image, so I'm afraid the hyperlinks won't work. If anyone knows how to embed a table, please let me know!

Here are those links:


Paddyfield 1

Paddyfield 2

Blyth's 1

Blyth's 2

Richard's 1

Richard's 2

Try playing a few of these simultaneously to pick out the different species!!


1. Paddyfield
2. Blyth's
3. Richard's


Choy Wai Mun said...

Dave, this is very useful. Thanks for sharing. But to be completely honest, the 3 of them are so alike and these are still images. Imagine trying to id them in the field.

Friend of HK said...

Thanks for the tips but it is not easy to distinguish them though.

digdeep said...

Hi Mun and 'Friend'!

The key is to use your ears as well as your eyes!

Mun, you can do Little Stints; I'm sure you can do these pipits!

Ron-Nature Adventures said...

Thanks Dave for the detail comparison. The search shall continue :)

Madibirder said...

Extremely useful info Dave, I'm sure many will benefit from this great comparison of the different species including me!

Ari said...

Thanks for sharing the great info Dave...I'm among the many who really benefit from these info...

digdeep said...

Thanks for the comments one and all! Happy pipit studying!

wengchun said...

Dave, this is great info! Now, to dig out all those photos since 10 yrs ago and go through it 1 by 1....