Paddyfield Pipit  – extended vocalisation

posted in: birds, Vocalisation | 0

I had an unusual experience with a Paddyfield Pipit (Anthus rufulus malayensis) today. I arrived at this wetland site around 6.57am and immediately encountered a Paddyfield Pipit calling out non-stop. The total duration, of continuously calling out, exceeded 1.5 minutes, as it had already been calling before I started any recordings. I am sure many of us are used to the hurried burst of 3-4 calls when taking flight or the less common 4-5 notes given when in a high display flight (courtship flight song). But this was something I have not encountered before. The bird was on a small mound of grass and singing, turning the head from side to side. There was no sequence or rhythm to the song. 64 calls were recorded in 75 seconds. The first half of the calls were different from the second half. The first half were the more classical 2-4 notes (occasionally single or 5) that sound like ‘tchep’ or ‘tseep’ or ‘chep’ (Wells 2007, HBW 2019). As the bird continued to all out the nature of the calls changed and became more complex – notes were harder to count, were more closely interspersed and the quality of the sound changed.

A video recording in low light is here:

An audio recording of the calls is here:


Post 1 is a waveform and sonogram of the first type of calls.

There is some similarity on the sonogram of both types of calls but a good look at the waveforms shows there are different and the sonograms are not identical.

I am making an assumption that this is a Paddyfield Pipit. It was dark, ISO for images was 29,000, making clear DSLR photos not possible. But it is the predominant Pipit for the region and we are at the tail end of the migration season. Once light was up I looked at every Pipit in the area and all were Paddyfield Pipits.If anyone has comments about the ID I would appreciate this.

Post 2 is a waveform and sonogram of the second type of calls.

There is a similar encounter by Peter Boesman on 27th March 2016 at 5:45am at the Bundala Ramsar Wetland, Sri Lanka. He notes this as “singing from the ground at dawn”. His recording here:

The majority of the Paddyfield Pipits I encountered were nesting, some collecting nesting material. I wonder if these calls I witnessed are early morning territorial calls and, because they are made very early, often missed?


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr)- Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Malim Nawar Wetlands, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Extensive ex-tin mining area with pond/lakes, wetlands, fish farming

Date: 25th April 2019

Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Tamron SP 150-600mm f/5-6.3 Di VC USD, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone

Follow YC Wee:

Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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