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Water Pipit

Anthus spinoletta (Linnaeus, 1758)

Горный конек | Тау жадырағы

Ile valley near Zhetygen
© Raufael Bairashev


Adult Water Pipit in breeding plumage has brownish-grey or yellowish-grey upperparts with not clear dark-brown streaks on head and back. Uppertail is buffy-brown. Flight feathers are dark-brown with whitish edges, which is narrow on primaries and broad on secondaries. White or pale-buffy edges of median and greater wing coverts formed pale wing-bars. Central pair of tail feathers are dark-brown with pale narrow edges, other ones blackish-brown; outer pair have wedge-shaped spots. Underparts are buffy or sandy-rufous, more intensive on breast and fluently dispersed to undertail. Females have some dark-brown streaks on craw and breast-flanks. Bill is black, legs are dark-brown, eyes are brown. In fresh autumn plumage Water Pipits have well appreciable brownish-sandy edges of feathers therefore birds look paler in total. Juveniles are pale sandy above, with not-clear dark-brown patches. Pattern on wings of juveniles as on adults but all edges as colour as on back, but some paler. Broad edges of inner secondaries are diffused boarded from dark background; when juveniles of other Pipits have contrast board on these feathers. Underparts are buffy with little but concentrated spots on throat-flanks and especially on breast; there are a bit of these spots on flanks. Bill is dark, yellowish-pink on base and flanks, legs are brownish. Sizes: wing 78-93 mm, weight: 16.7-27.0 grams.


Water Pipit breeds in highlands of South-Western Altai; in Saur and Tarbagatay ridges; in Dzhungarskiy Alatau and throughout Tien Shan. On migration it observed on plains adjacent to mountains, in west to lower Chu river.


Water Pipit is common, in places rare, breeding migrant. Ii inhabits alpine meadows from the forest belt up to the last patches of vegetation on rocky slopes with some juniper and dwarf-birch bushes at 2700-3500 m in Tien Shan and 1900-2500 m in Altai. During migration it prefers forest margins, shores, stubble fields and hayfields in foothills and on adjusted plains. Arrives at mid-end March in small flocks of one-two dozen birds in Tien Shan foothills and in early April in Altai foothills. After two-three weeks it appears in highlands. At Chokpak pass, majority of birds migrate in March - early April, last ones recorded in mid April - early May. Water Pipit breeds in separate pairs at distance 50-200 m one from another. Nest is built on ground under tussock, root or stone; from dry grass and is lined with soft grass and rarely with hair. Clutches of 3-6 eggs founded in mid May - early July. Only female incubates for 14-15 days; in some pairs male feeds female at nest. Both parents feed juveniles, which fledge at age 12-15 days old, in end June - mid August. Double brooded (which was proved by ringing in Talasskiy Alatau) and repeated breeding after losing of first nest are common. Autumn movement begins in early August in highlands. In foothills, in areas like Chokpak Pass, migration occurs from early September to early November, and most intensive in end September - mid October.


Anthus spinoletta blakistoni (Swinhoe, 1863)


"Птицы Казахстана" том 3. "Наука". Алма-Ата, 1970.
Э.И.Гаврилов. "Фауна и распространение птиц Казахстана". Алматы, 1999.
Gavrilov E. I., Gavrilov A. E. "The Birds of Kazakhstan". Almaty, 2005.



Anthus spinoletta blakistoni
(Swinhoe, 1863)

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