rock-pipit defined in 1930 yearrock-pipit - Rock-Pipit;
rock-pipit - Hind claw equal to the toe in length, much curved. Upper parts greenish brown, the centre of each feather darker brown; a whitish streak over the eye; under parts dull white, spotted and streaked with dark brown. Length, six and a quarter inches.
The rock-pipit is the only songster that inhabits the seashore, and this is the one distinction of this small dull-coloured bird. It is true that the starling sometimes nests, like the jackdaw, in cliffs, and that sparrows, wagtails, and a few other species, are occasionally to be seen on the sands and among the rocks; but they are only casual visitors in such places - they are inland birds, that live and breed in meadows, hedgerows, woods, and commons. The rock- pipit is of the seashore exclusively, and everywhere inhabits the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland where there are rocks and cliffs, and all the rocky islands and islets in the neighbouring seas; his nest U not found nor his song heard out of sound of the ocean. In summer he keeps very close to the sea, and his food then consists principally of minute crustaceans and marine insects and worms; in the autumn and winter months he unites in small flocks, and visits the salt-marshes and low grounds near the shore, and he then feeds mostly on small seeds. His song, if heard at a distance from the sea, would not be distinguished from that of the meadow-pipit; the action which accompanies the song is also the same in both species. Occasionally he delivers his notes while sitting on a rock; but as a rule he soars up to a moderate height, either silent or else repeating the first note of the song at regular intervals, then descends with a slow, sliding flight to the earth, and descending emits his best notes, short and simple, but with a melodious tinkling sound which is very pleasant to listen to, especially when several individuals are heard at once. When intruded on in his rocky haunts, or anxious for the safety of his young, his alarm-note, sharp yet plaintive, closely resembles that of the meadow-pipit. The nest, built in May, is carefully concealed among the rocks, beneath a tuft of grass, or in a well-sheltered hole or crevice in the rock, and is composed of small scraps of seaweed, dry grass, and moss, and lined with fine dry grass or hair. Four or five eggs are laid, white or pale bluish in ground-colour, thickly mottled with dull greyish brown or reddish brown spots.
Besides those described, three other species of Anthus have been included among British birds. These are the tawny pipit (Anthus campestris), Richard's pipit (Anthus richardi), and the water-pipit (Anthus spipoletta). The first two are occasional visitors to the south of England; of the water-pipit, a very few specimens have been obtained in different parts of the country.
Two beautiful British birds, unfortunately not indigenous nor regular in their visits to our country, may be mentioned in this place. They represent two families: Oriolidae, which follows Motacillidae (wagtails and pipits); and Ampelidae, which comes alter Laniidae (shrikes). One is the golden oriole (Oviolus galbulus), a rare straggler to England on migration from Central and Southern Europe. It has been known to breed in the southern counties, and, if protected, would probably become an annual visitant. The other species is the waxwing (Ampelis garrulus), an irregular visitor in winter, sometimes in considerable numbers, from the arctic circle.
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