Strolling in the evening in grassy field in Mangalore can be sometimes rewarding. Other than catching ticks & fleas left by domestic animals, we can catch glimpse of some of the native grassland birds. On that evening I saw this Paddyfield Pipit near half burnt dry grass patch. As it was surrounded all around by tall grass, falling flat on the ground to capture the best pose of the bird ( with sky as the background) was out of question. So used my Canon EF 300mm f/2.8 L IS USM fitted with Canon EF 1.4x II Extender on Canon EOS 7D camera lowered myself to get the best view possible of the ground dwelling bird. The bird being not so shy gave me plenty of time to capture before it ran away to nearby bush.
Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus) is a small passerine bird in the pipits and wagtail family. It is a resident breeder in open scrub, grassland and cultivation in southern Asia east to the Philippines. It is one of the few breeding pipits in our region.
This is a large pipit at 15 cm, but is otherwise an undistinguished looking bird, mainly streaked grey-brown above and pale below with breast streaking. It is long legged with a long tail and a long dark bill. Sexes are similar. Summer and winter plumages are similar. Young birds are more richly coloured below than adults and have the pale edges to the feather’s of the upper parts more conspicuous with more prominent spotting on the breast. This pipit seems to be malayensis subspecies described by Eyton in 1839. It is the larger, darker and more heavily streaked than the nominate form of Anthus rufulus. This subspecies is seen in the wet zone of the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka.
Paddyfield Pipit is smaller and dumpier, has shorter looking tail and has a weaker fluttering flight. The usually uttered characteristic tsip-tsip-tsip call. It is a wide spread species found in open habitats, especially short grassland and cultivation with open bare ground. It runs rapidly on the ground, and when flushed, does not fly far.
Breeds throughout the year but mainly in the dry season. Birds may have two or more broods in a year. During the breeding season, it sings by repeating the note during its descent from a short fluttery flight, a few feet above the ground. It builds its nest on the ground under a slight prominence, a tuft of grass, or at the edge of a bush. The nests are woven out of grass and leaves and are normally cup shaped. Exposed nests are sometimes domed or semi-domed, the long grass at the back and sides extending over the top.Nests are lined with finer grass or roots and sometimes with a little dry moss, bracken or other material at the base of the nest. The usual clutch is 3-4 eggs with greenish ground color and numerous small brown specks at the larger. When disturbed near the nest, the birds flutter nearby with weak tsip-tsip-tsip calls. Parent birds may also feign injury to distract predators.
It feeds principally on small insects but consumes larger beetles, tiny snails, worms etc. while walking on the ground, and may pursue insects like mosquitoes or termites in the air.