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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

Country diary: the song of the tree pipit is a rare pleasure

<p><strong>Heathland, West Sussex: </strong>Tree pipit numbers are in sharp decline in England, and it is not clear why</p><p>The soft, sandy soil is damp after the heavy overnight rain. I follow the narrow track downhill, splashing through large muddy puddles, and head out across the heathland. The sun pierces through the lifting cloud and shines on a <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/tree-pipit/" title="">tree pipit</a><strong>,</strong> singing from the top of a tall silver birch. The pipit’s <a href="https://www.xeno-canto.org/413149" title="">trills and whistles</a> carry across the undulating heather and scattered trees. The song ends with falling glissandos as the bird flutters down, out of sight among some ferns.</p><p>Tree pipits are getting harder to find on these Sussex heaths, especially in West Sussex. A 1967-70 survey estimated a breeding population of around 600 pairs across East and West Sussex. That fell to 90 pairs by 2010. It reflects a steep decline across England, although they are on the rise in Scotland.</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/jul/13/country-diary-the-song-of-the-tree-pipit-is-a-rare-pleasure">Continue reading...</a>

Heathland, West Sussex: Tree pipit numbers are in sharp decline in England, and it is not clear why

The soft, sandy soil is damp after the heavy overnight rain. I follow the narrow track downhill, splashing through large muddy puddles, and head out across the heathland. The sun pierces through the lifting cloud and shines on a tree pipit, singing from the top of a tall silver birch. The pipit’s trills and whistles carry across the undulating heather and scattered trees. The song ends with falling glissandos as the bird flutters down, out of sight among some ferns.

Tree pipits are getting harder to find on these Sussex heaths, especially in West Sussex. A 1967-70 survey estimated a breeding population of around 600 pairs across East and West Sussex. That fell to 90 pairs by 2010. It reflects a steep decline across England, although they are on the rise in Scotland.

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