I spent a few hours today looking to take photographs of Tree Pipits at a spot near Mortonhampstead close to Dartmoor. Checking my galleries I can see that I have been there in this calendar week over the last few years. The Tree Pipits can be hard to separate from the Meadow Pipits but once you see them in their very distinctive parachuting display flights, they are unmistakeable. If you compare pictures of known Tree Pipits with Meadows one or two things become obvious. The hind claw on the Meadow Pipit is noticeably longer, in fact it usually looks almost too long. The hind claw of a Tree Pipit is a more balanced length. Then , look at the flank markings, this of a Tree Pipit are much finer unlike the Meadow which are usually very much bigger. Then, but I think this is less obvious, the beak of the Tree Pipit is heavier. But even after looking at all of those diagnostic features you may still get it wrong. However like I have already alluded to, the song and display of the Tree Pipit will always clinch it.
The bird above and below is a Meadow Pipit, note the flanks heavily barred right down to the legs. I have also noticed that the legs of Tree Pipits are more flesh coloured. I was quite sure that the bird below was a Tree pipit but on closer inspection, the claws are far too long and indicate that this is a Meadow Pipit.
Now here's a couple of photo's of a Tree Pipit (below). It does show the difference on the flanks but I didn't mange to get the great shot that I wanted but I am going back tomorrow and I may be more successful then.