Water Pipit

Anthus spinoletta (Linnaeus, 1758) WI WATPI 10141
Family: Passeriformes > Motacillidae

Water Pipit, Philip Croft

The Alpine-breeding Water Pipit is a winter visitor to British and Irish wetlands, predominantly those found in the south. It arrives during September and October.

The Water Pipit has a curious behaviour in that part of the breeding population from the mountains of southern Europe move north for the winter. Its favoured habitat during the winter months is freshwater and coastal marshes in England – it is a scarce bird in Scotland and Wales and rare on the island of Ireland.

Water Pipits begin to head back to their breeding areas during April, by which time many are sporting their pink and grey breeding attire. It is estimated that around 300 individuals spend the winter months in Britain & Ireland, but there can be cold weather influxes.

Select a topic for more facts and statistics about the Water Pipit

  • Breeding
  • Winter


Water Pipit identification is often difficult. The following article may help when identifying Water Pipit.

related video

Identifying Water Pipit and Rock Pipit

This Bird ID focuses on separating the UK-resident Rock Pipit from the relatively rare Water Pipit, and both from the ubiquitous Meadow Pipit.

Once thought to be the same species, Rock Pipit and Water Pipit can now be told apart by focusing on finer plumage detail.


Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Water Pipit, provided by xeno-canto contributors.

Flight call


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Status and Trends

Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.


This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.



Water Pipits are scarce winter visitors from alpine areas of southern Europe. They mostly winter in the south of Britain and Ireland with a bias towards the coast; inland records are associated with large wetlands and marshes in the larger river valleys. The highest counts were received from the English east coast between the Humber and Suffolk, and from the Fens.

Occupied 10-km squares in UK

European Distribution Map

European Breeding Bird Atlas 2



Water Pipit is a winter visitor, arriving mostly from late October and remaining until April.

Weekly occurence of Water Pipit from BirdTrack
Weekly occurrence patterns (shaded cells) and reporting rates (vertical bars) based on BirdTrack data. Reporting rates give the likelihood of encountering the species each week.


Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.

An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.


View a summary of recoveries in the Online Ringing Report.

Foreign locations of birds ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland

Foreign locations of Water Pipit ringed or recovered in Britain & Ireland
Encountered in: Winter (Nov-Feb); Spring (Mar-Apr); Summer (May-Jul); Autumn (Aug-Oct)


Lifecycle and body size information about Water Pipit, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.



View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report


Feather measurements and photos on featherbase


For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name

Welsh: Corhedydd y Dwr
Catalan: grasset de muntanya
Czech: linduška horská
Danish: Bjergpiber
Dutch: Waterpieper
Estonian: mägikiur
Finnish: vuorikirvinen
French: Pipit spioncelle
German: Bergpieper
Hungarian: havasi pityer
Icelandic: Fjalltittlingur
Irish: Riabhóg Uisce
Italian: Spioncello
Latvian: udenu cipste
Lithuanian: vandeninis kalviukas
Norwegian: Vannpiplerke
Polish: siwerniak
Portuguese: petinha-ribeirinha
Slovak: labtuška vrchovská
Slovenian: vriskarica
Spanish: Bisbita alpino
Swedish: vattenpiplärka

Links to more information from ConservationEvidence.com

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