The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds – #3 The Meadow Pipit

I’m currently reading the third volume of the Ladybird Book of British Birds and their nests from the 1950s.

The Third Ladybird Book of British Birds-7476


Today I turn to the page on the Meadow Pipit. I love the introductory statement: “If you see a bird that looks like a small Skylark, then you can feel almost sure that you have seen a Meadow Pipit.”

When did you last see a Skylark?

The population of Skylarks has collapsed by 69% from 1970 to 2015.  We’ve killed over two in three Skylarks in the last 45 years.

The Meadow Pipit? The Meadow Pipit’s population in the UK has declined by 34%. We’ve killed over one in three Meadow Pipits in the last 45 years. Do you care enough about that to change the way in which you live your life?

Meadow Pipit - Ladybird Book of British Birds


Meadow Pipits are very entertaining birds. They have a fine bill, huge claws and live their lives at a fast pace:

Meadow Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)
Meadow Pipit on a barbed wire fence


Forty years ago I saw my first Meadow Pipit and noted it down in my nature notebooks:

Meadow Pipit - 1970s Nature Notebooks - The Hall of Einar


My friend from music school, Mike Hilton, brought me the body of a dead Meadow Pipit (because that’s what good childhood friends do). On 6 April 1977 I took photographs of it in my back garden. Here it is, on the tiny patch of grass not really wide enough to be a lawn and being cradled in Mike’s hand with the outside toilet in the background:

Meadow Pipit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)


As for the Meadow Pipit’s “Short bursts of flapping”, which I wrote about forty years ago, here’s one in mid-flight, taken in Orkney this summer:


During my lifetime we’ve destroyed hedgerows: after the Second World War there were approximately 500,000 miles of hedge in England. By 1990 that had more than halved to 236,000 miles. We’ve poisoned fields with pesticides and herbicides to kill ‘pests’ and ‘weeds’. We’ve drained and destroyed ponds and marshy areas. That’s taken its toll on our already scarce wildlife.

Are you angry yet?

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