The rare superciliaris subspecies of Western Yellow Wagtail was found

This evening I made a short trip to a nearby gravel pit where nice number of shorebir species bred last year. The water level is lower than last year resulting more islands for breeding. I was surprised by the number of Pied Avocets and Black-winged Stilts which apparently started to breed.

The most interesting record for this evening was a rare subspecies of the Western Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava superciliaris). When I entered the area I picked a black headed yellow wagtail with an obvious white supercilium. It was feeding along the shoreline with a few males of nominate race Motacilla flava flava ssp. I could relocate it for a few times. I have some experience with this subspecies from the Danube Delta and Dobrogea in Romania. However, the International Ornithologists’ Union taxonomic list does not recognise this subspecies and it should be conspecific with the Motacilla flava feldegg subspecies (range: the Balkans and Turkey to Iran and Afghanistan) which has no such obvious white supercilium while other features are alike.


Superciliaris ssp. of Western Yellow Wagtail from the Dobrogea, Romania. © Gyorgy Szimuly

Shorebird numbers recorded at the pit:

Pied Avocet 17
Black-winged Stilt 16
Little Ringed Plover 4
Common Redshank 2
Wood Sandpiper 5
Common Tern 27


Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) have already started to occupy nest holes. © Gyorgy Szimuly


A few images of the gravel pit. © Gyorgy Szimuly


A Little Ringed Plover nest with eggs was found right next to the entry point. © Gyorgy Szimuly


Nice evening clouds at the gravel pit. © Gyorgy Szimuly


One thought on “The rare superciliaris subspecies of Western Yellow Wagtail was found

  1. The bird I was observing had a thick, clear and complete white supercilium which the feldegg ssp. lacks. Otherwise it looked like a feldegg ssp. Any comment or idea?

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