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Roze Spreeuw

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New species of pipit

A recent study of the evolutionary relationships between pipits suggested the existence of a previously undescribed species (Voelker, G 1999. Molecular evolutionary relationships in the avian genus Anthus (pipits: Motacillidae). Mol Phylogen Evol 11: 84-94). DNA evidence indicated that a freshly-collected specimen from Kimberley, South Africa, which was originally identified as a Long-billed Pipit Anthus similis, is more closely related to Malindi Pipit A melindae than to Long-billed Pipit. Subsequent comparisons of the specimen revealed several differences with Long-billed and other pipits, including Malindi Pipit. Now, after several years of field work, the pipit is named Kimberley Pipit Anthus pseudosimilis (Liversidge, R & Voelker, G 2002. The Kimberley Pipit: a new African species. Bull Br Ornithol Club 122: 93-109). Kimberley Pipit differs from the sympatric Buffy Pipit A vaalensis and Plain-backed Pipit A leucophrys in having a streaked back and breast. It differs from African Pipit A cinnamomeus in having darker brown streaks on the back, a more extensive breastband with generally heavier streaking, and by its larger size. Although difficult to differentiate from Long-billed Pipit, it differs by a different wing formula and primary emargination, a shorter bill, a longer hind-claw, a more distinct cream supercilium, rufous ear-coverts and black malar stripe; it also differs from Long-billed Pipit in habitat, behaviour and breeding biology. Compared with Kimberley Pipit, Malindi Pipit of coastal Kenya has heavier streaking on the back, a thinner malar stripe and streaking on the belly and flanks. Kimberley Pipit is now known from 17 specimens and several confirmed sight records, all from the interior of South Africa and south-western Namibia. Where it occurs, Kimberley Pipit is fairly common and appears to be sedentary, although some winter movements may occur.
George Sangster