Blyth’s Pipit on Utsira

Challenging ID – still present

Bjørn Ove Høyland in touch last week about this young, large(ish) pipit, just across the North sea from Britain. The bird is till present yesterday (17th October) on the ‘Fair Isle’ of Norway. Utsira.  Great guys and I had hoped to go and speak at the birders get togther n Utsira this autumn. Really sorry I could not make it. Dang!


What can you see in the photos?

There’s a challenge. There always is with Blyth’s and Richards’ Pipits. Has this bird got pro- Blyth’s features? Is it identifiable? Maybe you can even check out our pages in the new WINTER book on Blyth’s and Richards’ Pipits!

They don’t really need my waffle.  I have to say this looks very Blyth’s. The bird has the nice slightly depressed upper mandible and more dagger/ pointed bill. Lovely evenly streaked crown, shortish supercilium not the length and breadth of many Richard’s. The flanks are well coloured and the hind claw looks rather decurved and about the right length. The tail does not look especially long.

The juvenile median coverts are not especially telling- a tad less compact and squarish than some Blyth’s which can be quite a good mimic of the adult pattern.

I don’t see anything in plumage and structure against it Blyth’s – indeed the photos show a bird that looks like one.

_MG_0834_mongolpip _MG_0787_mongolpip _MG_0705_mongolpip


Thankfully the bird called. It was heard by the guys on Utsira to give a ‘chip’ call many time. I can hear the call OK on the recording. Blyth’s do produce intermediate calls between the chip and the Yellow Wagtail psh-oo call. I recorded some last year on the Wakefield bird… so there is variety in the sound of the ‘chip’. This seems to fit the bill.

Have a listen


I can’t access (to make the links) to my own SoundCloud account, but you can listen to the recordings of the Wakefield Blyth’s Pipit giving both the ‘chip’ call and the ‘pssh-oo’ call by click HERE and just scroll a wee bit.

And this is well worth a very quick watch. A video of the bird clearly calling as it flies up. Thanks to Atle Grimbsy who sent a link. CLICK HERE.

These always help me increase my learning.

3 thoughts on “Blyth’s Pipit on Utsira

  1. Martin Gray

    Vagrant Richards do produce a variety of what might be called ‘atypical’ calls. Perhaps especially non-nominates. The presence of “chips”, “cheps” and “chirps” and the absence of “schreep” isn’t really all that helpful.

    1. Martin Garner Post author

      Hi Martin

      Interesting point and agree, migrants and just careful listening can reveal a variety of notes in both species. Though in the case of identification the repeated and sometime emphatic ‘chip’ note on bonafide Blyth’s interspersed with ‘different’ sounding psh-oo note (different from Richard’s) can quickly establish critical help in the ID process. There are also these notes that seem a ‘hybrid’ between these two calls. 🙂 As ever of course I think it would be even better if there were sound recordings of the kind of variant ‘chip’ notes we are talking about. That way it’s concrete, comparable data. Do you record the sounds? Unless someone has nice neat set somewhere it would be educational to gather calls and call variants- recording and sonagrams into one place. No doubt a resource that would get used!

      thanks again- Martin

  2. Geir Mobakken

    Indeed no point to question the ID of this pipit and so I agree. It is a non-controversial Blyth´s Pipit. The finder Bjørn Ove Høyland knew instantly that he had found something interesting and when more birders arrived at the scene it was identified within seconds. As for field characters, in addition to what has already been mentioned, note the absence of the thickening of the streaks on the sides of the crown (just above the supercilium), and also the absence of any fine streaking on the lower flanks, both of which is often/usually present on Richard´s Pipit. There is very little contrast to the ground colour of the belly, breast and flanks. Even though the median coverts is first-generation, this bird was actually straightforward to identify. With the call also matching Blyth´s Pipit, with both the “pschee” and the double “chep” heard, it was in fact no challenge at all.


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