This blog is about my birding exploits, which mainly take place in the Weymouth/Portland area, in Dorset. Will also include stuff from elsewhere, plus some other critters too. Hope you enjoy. All photographs are © Brett Spencer, unless indicated otherwise. The above image is of a Siberian Rubythroat, taken in Holland in 2016.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Masked Wagtail

Subspecies, form or species. Whatever, it doesn't matter, because Masked Wagtail is a stunning beast.

I was kind of hoping that it would be me who would find the British first, but that privilege fell to a guy in Pembrokeshire, who didn't know exactly what it was, but knew it looked odd. The rest is history, as they say.

Now, I know I've seen a couple of the ultimate Sibes this year, namely Siberian Rubythroat and Siberian Accentor, but Masked Wagtail was a taxon I'd always wanted to see and I wasn't to be disappointed. A complete stunner and for me, is bird of the year.

NOTE: Thanks to Luke Phillips for commenting on the age of this bird. This bird has replaced all it's median and greater coverts and tertials in the post breeding moult and contrasts with the worn primary coverts and rest of the flight feathers, thus this bird is not an adult as I first thought, but a 1st-winter bird. Still, I at least got the easy bit right, which is that this bird is a male. Luke has extensive experience of ringing Pied Wagtails, so his knowledge of ageing these things are greater than mine. Still, it is surprising just how much this bird looks like an adult at first sight and I'd wrongly assumed that the flight feathers on a young bird would be fresh at this time of year, so, lesson learned.

Being only the fourth record for North West Europe, this was a real mega.

I'm off now to find Britain's first Swinhoe's Wagtail. See, there is always a plan B.

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