Thursday 1st September – Lytchett Bay   Leave a comment

It’s officially autumn, although there has been a strong autumn migration going on for the last six weeks.

This morning three of us ringed at Lytchett Bay.  Highlight was five Grasshopper Warblers, but as you’ve seen enough photos of those recently, I won’t bore you with any more. Unfortunately the regular Osprey didn’t put in an appearance.

Yesterday evening we set tried to catch Yellow Wagtails at roost and succeeded in catching three out of some twenty or so present. Yellow Wagtails have declined greatly as a breeding species in recent years and no longer breed regularly in Dorset. so it was pleasing to hear that a flock of 70 were seen on Tuesday evening. Perhaps the dry spring has helped this year.

First year male Yellow Wagtail of the race British race flavissima

Yellow Wagtails have a fascinating but complex geographical variation. The genetics suggest that there are two species involved, with the eastern species Motacilla tschutchensis breeding from west of Lake Baikal to Alaska. However not all eastern forms are Eastern Yellow Wagtail, races of Western Yellow Wagtail breed in Japan, Arctic Siberia as far east as the Omalon River and in  north-east China and Ussuriland. Some split the species further, the Dutch consider most races to be separate species, (although they have just lumped the Spanish iberiae with the Italian cinerocapilla)

This is Blue-headed Wagtail, the widespread race flava of continental Europe. Photo from the internet

Black-headed Wagtai;(race feldegg) Armenia May 2010. This is considered the same species as European flava and the British flavissima ......


..... whilst this form tschutchensis, is a separate species Eastern Yellow Wagtail in spite of its strong similarity to flava. Confused? You're not the only one! Photo from the Internet, taken at Nome, Alaska

In 10/10/89 I trapped a extremely grey ‘Yellow Wagtail’ at Lytchett Bay, which is compatible with first year Eastern Yellow Wagtail. With claims of possible Eastern Yellow Wags occurring in the UK in recent Octobers,  I really regret not taking full biometrics and photographs of this bird and retaining a feather for DNA analysis. At the time it was just dismissed as a very grey looking Yellow Wag as the split hadn’t been mooted at the time.

Posted September 1, 2011 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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