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Order Song birds/Passeriformes, Family Pipits, Wagtails/Motacillidae

Red-throated Pipit/Anthus cervinus - Adult

L 14-15 cm. Breeds sparsely on bare mountains and tundra in northernmost Europe, on swampland in willow zone and open, low upland birch forest with grassy patches. Summer visitor, winters in Africa and locally in Middle East. Vagrant Britain & Ireland (mostly Apr- Jun, Aug-Nov).
IDENTIFICATION: Resembles Meadow Pipit in size and shape, and occurs on passage (at times also breeds) in same habitats as that species. Normally, however, only autumn immatures present identification challenge. In all plumages heavily black-streaked above, including back and rump (Meadow Pipit only poorly marked on rump), with brown ground colour and some rufous and whitish fringes (lacks olive tinge shown by most autumn Meadow Pipits). - Adult: Easily identified by rusty-red throat. Some (prob. mostly males) also have rusty-red on supercilium, forehead and upper breast, as well as having these areas completely unpatterned (thus lack dark malar stripe); others (prob. mostly females) have more restricted rusty-red and are heavily streaked. The rusty colour is retained in autumn (winter plumage), but is initially more yellow-brown in tone. - 1st-autumn: Lacks rusty-red on throat, which is buff-white. Note heavily dark-streaked upperparts with brown rather than olive-grey ground colour, distinct pale tertial edges, pale lores, complete narrow whitish eye-ring, thin bill with usually yellowish base to lower mandible, whitish stripes along mantle, and often strong black wedge shape on lower throat-side.
VOICE: Call a fine, drawn-out, squeaky ‘pssiih’, with hint of hoarseness at close range (but much higher, purer and longer than Tree Pipit’s call). Alarm a ‘chüpp’ like Ortolan Bunting’s. Song very characteristic in its rhythmic theme with ringing tone, its needle-fine, drawn-out notes (with call-note quality) and its redpoll-like dry buzzing sound, e.g. ‘svü-svü-svü-svü, svüsvü- svü-svü, svü-svü-svü-svü, psiü psiiiü psiiiiüh sürrrrrrrrr wi-wi-wi-wi tsvü-tsvü-tsvü’.

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