northberwick_pete's picture

Pied Wagtail

Observed: 8th January 2012 By: northberwick_petenorthberwick_pete’s reputation in Birdsnorthberwick_pete’s reputation in Birdsnorthberwick_pete’s reputation in Birdsnorthberwick_pete’s reputation in Birds
Pied Wagtail
Pied Wagtail
Description:

Wagtail in the stream as it crosses the beach. Black back makes me think yarrellii?

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba subsp. yarrellii) interacts

Comments

KelsaeJohn's picture

M. alba subspecies Yarrellii

I am no expert, but with respect to everyone agreeing with this ID, I would love to know what draws you to the conclusion that it is the subsp. 'yarrellii' as opposed to M. alba. This looks no different to the common Pied Wagtail I see every day in my home town.
(An explanation would be greatly appreciated)

DavidHowdon's picture

Subspecies

Subspecies yarrellii is the "common Pied Wagtail" you see every day. The nominate sub-species (given the common name White Wagtail when it crops up in the UK) has a greyer back that of our common Pied Wagtail.

KelsaeJohn's picture

Pied Wagtail

Thanks David - I never knew that.
P.S. I once saw a Pied wagtail with some yellow colouration - particularly around the face. It has always been a mystery to me. Any ideas?

ophrys's picture

Yellow

Yellow is quite commonly found on the face of Pied Wagtails in the autumn, mainly on young birds. It tends to be a washed out primrose sort of yellow, but it is very noticeable. White Wagtails can show it, too. You are likely to get White Wagtails, too, at passage periods, so it is worth looking out for birds with whiter flanks and with pale grey on the mantle, once spring arrives.

Ian
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ophrys's picture

yarrellii

yarrelli is almost certainly what you see every day, as it is the subspecies found in this country. Motacilla alba (ssp. alba) is the White Wagtail from the continent, which occurs here mainly as a passage migrant. This is yarrellii as it is black on the mantle, rather than grey, and has black smudging on the flanks, not found on alba. So, alba is the White Wagtail, but yarrellii is 'our' subspecies, called Pied Wagtail...more black on it, put very simply.

Ian
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KelsaeJohn's picture

Yarrellii

Thank you ophrys. Your explanation has been most enlightening. (P.S. wagtails (both Pied and Grey) are, with the possible exception of Corvids and Gulls the most commonly seen bird around town here. (No doubt because we are on the bank of the River Tweed)