Pechora Pipit Anthus gustavi 北鷚
Category I. Scarce passage migrant, more numerous in spring, to grassy areas often near water.
Apr. 2008, Martin Hale.
14 cm. Although one of the most attractive pipits, unfortunately its skulking behaviour does not usually allow prolonged views. Has relatively large and pale bill, with most of lower mandible and cutting edges of upper mandible pink, and pink legs. The sides of the mantle have contrasting black and white lines, and the tips to median and greater coverts are usually white and contrasting. Unlike other pipits, has an obvious projection of the primaries beyond the tertials. The head and mantle may have a ginger tone on brighter birds, and the outer tail feathers are often pale buff.
Oct. 2021, Michelle and Peter Wong.
The underparts can be white to buff, but are always overlain with bold black streaks on the chest and all of the flanks
The call is a short and sharp ‘chip’, reminiscent of Grey Wagtail but thinner and sharper.
DISTRIBUTION & HABITAT PREFERENCE
Overgrown grassy areas close to water and areas of wet agriculture and freshwater marsh are favoured, and thus it is not surprising that most records have occurred in the northwest New Territories. Also recorded on Po Toi
Up until 1986 there had only been three proven records of this species in HK. Greater familiarity with the species habits and field identification led to it being recorded annually from 1988.
Pechora Pipit is a passage migrant in both spring and autumn (Figure 1). It has been recorded in spring from 10 April to 29 May and in autumn from 3 September to 10 November. Usually encountered in ones or twos, numbers are higher in spring, although the degree to which this is the case is exaggerated in the chart due to an aggregate of over 130 birds recorded in the first week of May 1999 in the wake of the close approach of a tropical storm. In typical years the number of birds recorded in spring is probably twice that in autumn. Peak spring passage occurs in the last week of May and the first three weeks of May, while the autumn peak is less obvious and appears to occur in the second half of September.
The highest single-site count is 103 roosting at Mai Po NR on 3 May 1999, while at least 132 birds appear to have occurred in the first week of the month. Outside this exceptional period the highest count is 25 on Po Toi on 2 May 2013 and at Mai Po NR on 7 May 2014. The highest autumn count is seven on 27 September 2011.
BEHAVIOUR, FORAGING & DIET
Notably more skulking than other pipits occurring in HK and often difficult to see well. Although the call is distinctive, it often flushes without vocalising, flying a short distance into dense vegetation. It often hovers briefly before landing (Alström et al. 2003). Forages on invertebrates, but no details.
RANGE & SYSTEMATICS
Breeds across north Siberia from west of the Ural Mountains to the Bering Sea and Kamchatka, and in northeast China and southeast Russia; winters in Indonesia and the Philippines (Alström et al. 2003). In China breeds in Heilongjiang and a migrant through the eastern half of the country (Liu and Chen 2020).
Two subspecies are recognised: the nominate breeds across northern Siberia from the Urals to Chukotka and Kamchatka, while A. g. menzbieri breeds in northeast China and southeast Russia in Ussuriland as far as Blagoveschensk (Alström et al. 2003). In direct comparison the latter is darker above due to it being less rufous, more greenish-grey on the upperparts and having slightly broader dark streaks on the crown and mantle. It is also smaller, with only slight overlap in wing length. All birds trapped in HK have been the nominate subspecies, and those seen in the field appear to be this taxon also.
IUCN: Least Concern. Population trend stable.
Alström, P., K. Mild and B. Zetterström (2003). Pipits and Wagtails of Europe, Asia and North America. Christopher Helm, London.
Liu, Y. and Y. H. Chen (eds) (2020). The CNG Field Guide to the Birds of China (in Chinese). Hunan Science and Technology Publication House, Changsha.