Thursday, 5 January 2023

Wag Tales

Work today. But first, a quick visit to West Bay. Predictably quiet, but a single Red-throated Diver W and three Guillemots on the sea added another two species to the Patchwork Challenge tally.

I had deliberately left a little birding slack in today's schedule. Also I had packed the scope, camera and sound recorder. Late yesterday afternoon there was news from Colyford Common, scene of recent Isabelline Wheatear reappearance. Apparently the putative Eastern Yellow Wagtail had put on a bit of a show too, perching on overhead cables, calling a lot, that kind of thing. There were some photos but, as far as I was aware, no actual recordings yet.

So, with my last job conveniently situated in Colyford, I was all set...

Except there was no sign of it all day. Still, you never know.

Yep. As I was walking down the track, Tim White refound it. Per-r-r-r-fect!

I have never seen an Isabelline Wheatear being so blatently ignored. The EYW (okay, putative EYW, but I cannot keep using that word) performed very well indeed for the few of us present...

Isabelline Wheatear and Eastern Yellow Wagtail. A typical January combo in East Devon.

The Isabelline Wheatear tried flaunting its little black alula at us, but it was on to a loser today...

A photo-bomb then? Nope, that didn't work either.

I have fond memories of Devon's only previous Eastern Yellow Wag, at Colyton WTW (probably less than a mile away) in 2010, and this looks very similar.

Very nice.

It perched up on the boardwalk here for a couple of minutes at least, and I got a short video. The following is just a clip, but three or four seconds in you will see the bird deposit a small, [possibly] Siberian poo, followed by me panning down a bit so I can memorise the exact spot, and then a Pied Wag drops in, a bit further away. What I didn't notice at the time was what the Pied Wag did next...

So, when I trotted up the boardwalk and carefully collected a bit of bird poo, the question is: did I get the right one? Or is the tiny dollop currently residing in my fridge actually from the cloaca of a Pied Wag?

Anyway, I got some nice recordings of the call. In life it wasn't as obviously raspy as I was expecting, though I have always known that I do not have the most discerning ear. But that will all have to be for another post...

In the meantime, a couple of bits from yesterday...

The Eype Firecrest showed again, and this time I was ready.

West Bay birds are very obliging if you have cake.


  1. Like a scene from the Mongolian Steppes

  2. So, is collecting bird poo your new hobby? ;o)

    1. I drew the line at photographing it for the blog! 😄

    2. Just realised I didn't explain, but bird poo is potentially a source of DNA which, in a tricky species like this one, can help confirm its identity.

  3. Unless you picked up the pied wag poo.....


  4. I think you're due firecrest as a garden tick.

    1. That would be very welcome, but there isn't much suitable habitat. Any Firecrest in our garden would really be slumming it! 😄