The first arrival in Argyll this year was recorded on 12th April at ‘Baliscate’ by Tobermory on Mull by LNHG member Stuart Gibson. This record was closely followed by sightings at Glean Lean in Cowal and Duntrune near Crinan on 13th April. Most Tree Pipits were widespread and singing in their territories by the end of April.
Tree Pipits occur in greatest abundance in Wales, Northern England and Scotland. There has been widespread moderate decline across Europe since 1980 and the species has moved from the green on the amber list of UK Birds of Conservation Concern in 2002, to red in 2009, on the strength of its UK population decline. It is among a group of species that winter in the humid zone of West Africa and correspondingly are showing the strongest population declines among our migrant species.
Tree pipits have brown-streaked upperparts and pale underparts with further streaking on buff tinged chest and flanks. They are very similar to Meadow Pipits but, on close inspection, may be distinguished by their heavier bill, shorter hind claw and fine streaking on the flank. Another more subtle difference is the wing markings are more contrasting, often with a prominent black median covert bar and a white necklace edging to these feathers. Widespread summer visitors to the UK, they occur in particularly high densities in Western uplands, including Scotland.
Tree Pipits are a difficult bird to identify and particularly hard to differentiate from Meadow Pipits, so the best way to identify them is by their song. They launch themselves from a tree perch and climb steadily singing, until reaching a crescendo and then parachute downwards to land again in another tree. Although as the name suggests they are often seen in trees they will feed on the ground. They eat mainly small invertebrates, but some plant matter, especially berries, in autumn.
Click on the link below to hear the song of the Tree Pipit :-
Photo courtesy of Stuart Gibson