Pigeon's picture

What kind of wagtail?

Observed: 5th February 2012 By: Pigeon
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Description:

Can you identify this wagtail please? With his black cap and black bib, pale yellow face, he doesn't seem to fit the yellow or the grey description...... any ideas anyone?
Thank you!

Identifications
Species interactions

No interactions present.

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

Comments

ophrys's picture

Pied

I agree that this is a yarrellii. However, I think it is worth remembering that the identification of some species is dependent on a combination of features, not just one. This is a yarrellii because the flanks are ashy-grey, the mantle is dark grey and the rump is dark, as well.

Have a look at the link below, and look at the first picture of what is clearly a White Wagtail. The rump is not light grey!

http://www.the-soc.org.uk/docs/white-wagtail-id.pdf

The rump of White can be quite dark grey, and the upper tail coverts, which can be taken for the rump, are very like Pied. But a combination of features will sort them out. Ringing has shown, in recent years, that most alba wagtails passing through in the autumn are white. I see a lot of White on local playing fields in spring, too. They can be quite common, on passage.

Ian
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/52163027@N02/

chrisbrooks's picture

Pied

I'm on a learning curve with White / Pied Wagtails, so I appreciate your confirmation of the ID, your comments and the useful link. I take it there are some very similar examples of the two species that can be very difficult to separate ?

ophrys's picture

Similar

I don't have anything in particular to refer you to, but they can be similar. In spring the difference is easy, with Pied being so dark, and White so pale, in breeding plumage (especially males). In autumn they can look more similar, though, especially young birds. If you look on the web, you will also see that there are birds which occur in the eastern mediterranean which look very Pied-like, yet are probably White. The fact that it is only relatively recently that ringing has revealed so many birds at autumn roosts to be Whites, shows that they have been going undetected to some extent.

Ian
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http://www.flickr.com/photos/52163027@N02/