Yellow-breasted Pipit, Hemimacronyx (Anthus) chloris

Photographed in Mohale Village, Lesotho; 06.12.2003. Copyright Faansie Peacock.

 

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This bird is one of a group of at least three individuals that caused much excitement when they were first reported from this locality as very few records of Yellow-breasted Pipits exist in Gauteng. The bird has previously been recorded near Secunda and in Rietvlei Dam Nature Reserve (POSA p. 255). The individual in this photograph is preening and has its plumage fluffed up (probably also as result of the cold—note the frost on the ground!). It shows the typical rich buff underparts, with only slight contrast between the paler midventral plane and the flanks. The rich edges of the wing-coverts and tertials are also clearly visible in this image. The breast is very poorly marked, with only subtle, diffuse streaking (POSA p. 253). Although the dishevelled mantle feathers make this difficult to see,, the upperparts are particularly dark and scalloped, almost longclaw-like (POSA p. 252). The dark crown streaking can also be seen here. Perhaps the most diagnostic character of non-breeding Yellow-breasted Pipits is the bright lemon-yellow spot on their lower bellies, which is (unfortunately) only visible from certain angles. However, when seen this spot is unmistakeable, and can not be confused with, for example a yellowish wash (POSA p. 253). The bird in this (blurry) digiscope shows the characteristic dark sub-ocular spot of this species. Also note the somewhat scalloped mantle (POSA p.252), and buff supercilium that contrasts poorly with the rest of the face. The throat is only slightly paler than the submoustachial stripe, and the breast is virtually unmarked. Overall, the proportions and structure of the Yellow-breasted Pipit are very similar to those of the African Pipit—smallish, with a long tail. However, the Yellow-breasted typically shows a slightly rounder crown; shorter, thicker neck; and a slightly stubbier bill. In addition Yellow-breasted Pipits tend to exhibit a more creeping, less upright postuer (especially in the non-breeding season).
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