Wednesday 15 January 2020

A Winter Mission Accomplished

Well, at least I think so...

Since picking out what I thought to be a White Wagtail at Colyton WTW a few weeks back, I have been on the lookout for them. I had another candidate at Kilmington WTW more recently, but it was brief and didn't give me the chance of a photo. This morning I tried Kilmington again, and eventually found what I was looking for. I am no alba wagtail expert, but from what I have read, this bird fits the bill...

Virtually unmarked grey crown, and grey rump almost concolourous with the mantle.

Best of all, it wasn't alone. Loads of Pied Wags nearby gave me a few opportunities to photograph them side by side...

It looks so neat and clean beside the Pied Wags. That is certainly how it caught my eye.
Nice rump comparison.

I will admit that finding and photographing (convincingly!) a White Wagtail in mid-winter is a little bit niche, and not going to be on everyone's birding agenda at this time of year. But since getting into tristis mode in December I have found myself more and more attracted to these sewage works locations, because they are teeming with birds. Kilmington is the best I've found, but Colyton is very good too. And with all these alba wags around, I simply had to find a way to get excited about them. Job done...

Also at Kilmington WTW were two Sibe Chiffs and a Firecrest. I am really struggling to get a photo of the Firecrests I see - mostly I get a green blur or birdless vegetation - but today I did at least manage a decent shot of both the tristis. In fact it was checking the photos that told me I'd definitely seen two different birds...

Gorgeous, pallid little Siberian Chiffchaff
Tristis #2, and the reason they like to hang around the sewage works

By the way, as I mentioned at the beginning I am not an alba wagtail expert by any means, and would welcome any feedback either way on this bird. Obviously I think it is a White Wagtail, but if it isn't please tell me. I'd rather learn than be left in blissful ignorance!


  1. I think it is too. We scarcely have any Pieds up here in winter, but I did have a good White candidate in December one year in a town centre. Loce the Chiffy with mozzies...

    1. Thanks Stewart. Someone on Twitter has referred me to a Dutch Birding paper on the subject of identifying alba wags. I am reading it right now, and suspect I have unwittingly opened a can of worms. At the moment I still think it's a White Wag, but it's possible I may have to revise that diagnosis!

      You should have seen that tree the Sibe Chiff was in! Cloud of flies all down the lee side of it, and 10-15 Chiffies pigging out in leisurely fashion. Brilliant!