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In last week’s post about the start of the autumn bird migration, I mentioned that I’d blog about the individual species if I managed to get some better photos. Well, there have been a few obliging Tree pipits passing through, so today they get star billing.

The only time we see Tree pipits (Anthus trivialis) here in coastal south Wales is on passage, in the Spring heading to their breeding grounds in the Welsh Valleys and points further north (I see and hear them singing at Aberbargoed NNR when I go looking for Marsh fritillaries in May and June), and then again in the Autumn as they fly south to their over-wintering sites in Africa.

Tree and Meadow pipits are very similar and can be difficult to tell apart. As a rule of thumb, at this time of year, the Tree pipits move through first, with Meadow pipits following a few weeks later (and some Meadow pipits linger through the winter months). If you can get a good look at them (or reasonable photos), you will see that the breast markings on Tree pipits are finer, more thinly streaked than the bolder flecks of the Meadow pipits, whose markings also extend further down the belly and the flanks.