Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Meadow Pipit.

Meadow Pipit with grub
Meadow Pipit Astland Photography  

It's interesting that whilst I claimed the Meadow Pipit (MP) is more abundant than any other upland bird several times over in This Post, the species is one of our least studied and understood birds, whilst it is a common winter visitor, a very conspicuous and abundant visible migrant, and one of Lancashire's most numerous breeding birds. 

The English population of MP declined by 40% during 1979-2003. This decline has been shown to continue since 1994 and is an Amber listed species because of the breeding population decline linked to a deterioration on Iberian wintering grounds - which is where ringing has shown that many birds from GB winter, the MP's also pass through from Iceland and Scandinavia in the autumn - but is also likely to be due to the loss of marginal land on farmland and the conversion of grassland to arable. 

My comment about the abundance in the Cross of Greet area recently - where I saw a Meadow Pipit every 7.2 minutes over a six hour period - was reflected in Scotland and Wales where the MP is widespread and has bred in almost every 10km square as it did in Lancashire during a survey period 1997-2000.

Clifford Oakes makes an intriguing claim when he says....'many MP nests are deserted due to disturbance by the Cuckoo's which pester them so much during their attempts to parasitise their nests'....he goes on to say....'in years when Cuckoo's are plentiful there can appear to be more of them than the MP on certain nesting grounds'....I'm not sure that is likely to be ever again, in any case, this from Oakes sounds like something of an exaggeration.

Cuckoo with Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler/Cuckoo Astland Photography  

A brilliant image of the young Cuckoo being fed by its host bird the Reed Warbler. I'm grateful for this and the Meadow Pipit image by Peter and Susan Wilson with their permission. 

Juvenile Cuckoo. Pete Woodruff.

I was fortunate to witness this amazing fostering behaviour between a Meadow Pipit and young Cuckoo at Birk Bank on 6 July 2006. The Cuckoo is in the image above but I never did manage one of the bird being fed by the Meadow Pipit. I have a feeling this may well be one of those 'once in a lifetime' occasions I had the pleasure of observing, never to be repeated.

With regard to personal records of the Cuckoo this year to date, I've seen five....

Barbondale 20 May (1)
Tower Lodge 29 May (1) 5 June (2)
Cross of Greet Bridge 7 June (2)    

1 comment:

Findlay Wilde said...

I still haven't managed to see a cuckoo, but I have now heard one. From findlay