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Rock Pipit

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A pipit species found in Dorset almost exclusively on the rocky limestone of the Purbeck and Portland coasts.


Photograph by: 
Peter Orchard

Rock Pipit: on the rocks

Post date: Wednesday, 30 March, 2016 - 00:00

The rocky limestone of the Purbeck and Portland coasts is home to a good number of rock pipits (Anthus petrosus). It is not a common bird nationally but not uncommon here in Dorset in the right places.

All pipits are much the same to look at really; streaky brown back with a 'thrush-like' spotted front and telling a rock pipit from meadow pipit can be a bit daunting until you realise that you find the rock pipit on rocks, and meadow pipit in grassland habitats! If only it were that simple for some other species and their allotted English names! Garden warbler in a English country garden for example? I don't think so ...

Like other pipits the male rock pipit has a lovely 'parachute' display, flying up and then gliding down, making a piping sound as it descends to a prominent rocky perch and you can see them doing that from late March through until mid-May. 

The rock pipit and the water pipit, although named as separate species are considered to be almost one and the same but water pipits are usually found in winter and at inland sites where there is water present, such as watercress beds.    


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Sites List Distribution Map Some Charts Some Photographs Original Tweets Relatives Guidance Notes
Common Name Rock Pipit
Scientific Name Anthus petrosus
Status Local
Interest Level
Species Family Pipits and Wagtails
  • 01 - January
  • 02 - February
  • 03 - March
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 06 - June
  • 07 - July
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
  • 11 - November
  • 12 - December
Preferred Environment
  • Rocky cliffs and shores
Look for A meadow pipit in rocky habitats
Additional Identification Notes
  • Similar in appearance to the more common meadow pipit
  • Found exclusively on rocky shorelines, notably Portland and the Purbeck coast
  • The same species as the water pipit but found in totally different habitat