Eastern Yellow Wagtail in Northumberland

20 Dec

Eastern Yellow Wagtail is one of those birds that flew under the radar until recently with the first accepted record over a hundreds years old on Fair Isle in 1909 with a further bird there in 1912 now considered “British” following genetic analysis of  both records.  The next record was at Colyton, Devon in December 2010 which was trapped allowing DNA analysis to confirm it as the 2nd record {BB Vol 106 p36-41}. Since then though there have been a small but steady occurrence, likely more to do with greater knowledge, particularly the call with sound recording and sonographs, as well as ‘appearance’ than actual increase in occurrence. What were just late “grey’ Yellow Wagtails [as with the Devon record birds seen after the usual autumn migration and into winter] are now given a good grilling [and listening!] Of course with split of Eastern from Western forms they have now become in demand to twitchers. Living in Yorkshire the temptation to ‘sit and wait’ had kept me expecting one locally but with one not too far off in Northumberland and showing well TD got interested and ofter some reluctance I gave in.

18712/19 Too cold, with the risk of ice, and my usual trip to Bridlington by bike was replaced with the train. So walked to Cottingham station in the dark and despite initial worries the new ticket machine proved non-challenging and after a few minutes on a frozen bench joined RG on the train. TD picked us up from the station and got to Prestwick Carr by early afternoon with incident. Unfortunately the bird, having been settled all morning, had flown to north of the cross road. Getting there it had flown again and after a few minutes searching returned to the fields further south. Found a distant group of Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit and started looking through when called back to the northern field were the Eastern Yellow Wagtail had been relocated. To be honest the usual early twitch panic where a bit of patience was the best thing. The bird then spent the rest of our stay feeding on blood worms only a few metres from the birders.

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Eastern Yellow Wagtail-Prestwick Carr

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Birders including Joe and Richard at Prestwick Carr

The fields had a few horses and was like the sort of thing you see in RSPSA programs being virtually devoid of grass although did have a plenty of hay in feeders.

Was nice to get back to Bridlington and getting on train with only a short walk home at the end rather than having to ride back the extra cost is an issue. In better weather the ticket price would have paid for almost enough petrol to make the full journey on my own.

With the Cornish Brown Booby already on my life list from Florida the Wagtail looks likely my only lifer in Britain in 2019, my worst total since I started birding. However got a few more in Romania.

A word of caution The parking is a on a soft verge and one birder got so stuck the front of the car was dug in so deep with couldn’t push him out.

 

Update Still present on Sunday 29th but a better marked male in Norfolk of the Blue-headed [Alaskan] race is attracting more visitors.

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