Two Grassland Birds

To: Geoffrey Dabb <>
Subject: Two Grassland Birds
From: Denis Wilson <>
Date: Sat, 28 Apr 2012 10:25:24 +1000
Hi Geoffrey
Great photos, as usual - Thanks
I continue to enjoy your little photo essays.

I would make the point that Bird Listeners, as distinct from Bird Watchers, have no trouble distinguishing these similar-looking birds.



On Sat, Apr 28, 2012 at 9:52 AM, Geoffrey Dabb <> wrote:

Another slide.  The skylark and pipit have several things in common, similar habitat, similar plumage and a rather similar song-flight.  Neither is of Gondwanan stock, the skylark being introduced in the 19th century by lark-loving European colonists, and the pipit arriving X thousand years earlier, after the Australian plate fetched up within pipit-flight of pipit-infested bits of Asia.  The lark is indeed the celebrated skylark of Europe, the “blithe spirit” of the poet Shelley, a phrase taken up in the name of the Noel Coward play, later the title of the 1945 film starring Rex Harrison which can occasionally be seen on very late night television.


There is a more curious parallel.  20 years ago both species would have been regarded as existing side by side not only in the grasslands of the Canberra area but on the steppes of Central Asia.  Subsequently, it was determined that our pipit was not really, after all,  the widespread ‘Richard’s Pipit’ but a separate species tentatively labelled ‘Australasian Pipit’ pending clarification of the status of the NZ pipits.  The trans-Tasman chaps having been separated, our familiar pipits are now generally regarded as ‘Australian’(eg IOC list).   None of that makes them any easier to distinguish in the field from the EURASIAN Skylark.


Denis Wilson
"The Nature of Robertson"

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