A possible Channel Wagtail at the Sywell Reservoir

As a part of visiting the playgrounds in the Sywell Country Park near Mears Ashby, I had some time to walk around the Sywell Reservoir. Originally, I visited the area to see my first Whinchat in England, which was reported in the morning. I couldn’t find the Whinchat at the given location, but I found a very unusual looking yellow wagtail.

The variety of the Western Yellow Wagtail subspecies has long fascinated me. The bird, which I found on the southwest part of the reservoir at the edge of a rape field, didn’t have any features resembled to the British subspecies flavissima, but was rather similar to the nominate race, flava. On the other side of the reservoir I had seen typical British yellow wagtails. The main features of the bird in question were as follows: greenish-yellow mantle and back, very pale bluish-grey crown, nape, and eye stripe, rather broad supercilium and an extensive all white chin and throat. Face practically looked white as well.

Following my research on the web, my bird looked like a Channel Wagtail, which was recently named by the British birding community. The Channel Wagtail is a Motacilla flava flava x M. f. flavissima hybrid. I have seen several records of Channel Wagtails currently posted to BirdGuides, suggesting that this variation is not extremely rare in England. I’d like to hear other British birder’s opinion on my observation.

I can’t wait to have my bridge mega zoom camera to be able take pictures of tricky birds seen in the fields.

Male Channel Wagtail in the Covenham Reservoir, Lincolnshire on 13/04/09. The image was linked from the online article ‘Flava frustrations’. © Nick Clayton

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