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Pipits and wagtails

Juvenile yellow wagtail

Image: Graham Catley

Pipits are lark-like in their streaky plumage and long hind claws but smaller and more slender than larks, often longer-tailed. Wagtails are similar in form but even longer-tailed, most species more or less associated with watery habitats. 

Some species are black, white and grey, while others have much yellow in their plumage. Three species of pipit and three wagtails breed in the UK but several others are rare visitors.

Grey wagtail

The grey wagtail is more colourful than its name suggests with slate grey upper parts and distinctive lemon yellow under-tail. Its tail is noticeably longer than those of pied and yellow wagtails. The... More...

Grey wagtail

Meadow pipit

A small, brown, streaky bird, it is the commonest songbird in upland areas and its high, piping call is a familiar sound. In flight it shows white outer tail feathers and in the breeding season it has... More...

Meadow pipit

Pied wagtail

A delightful small, long-tailed and rather sprightly black and white bird. When not standing and frantically wagging its tail up and down it can be seen dashing about over lawns or car parks in search... More...

Pied wagtail

Rock pipit

The rock pipit is a large stocky pipit, larger than a meadow pipit and smaller than a starling. It is streaky olive-brown above and dirty white underneath with dark streaking. It breeds around the coa... More...

Rock pipit

Tree pipit

Tree pipits have brown streaked upper parts and pale under parts with further streaking on buff tinged chest and flanks. They are very similar to meadow pipits but, on close inspection, may be distin... More...

Tree pipit

Water pipit

The water pipit is a large and stocky pipit. It is greyish-brown above and pale below with streaks on its breast. It has a pale stripe over its eye, a slender bill and dark legs. It does not breed in ... More...

Water pipit

Yellow wagtail

The yellow wagtail is a small, graceful, yellow and green bird, with a medium-length tail and slender black legs. It spends much time walking or running on the ground. As its name implies, it wags its... More...

Yellow wagtail