|British Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii
(aka White Wagtail Motacilla alba)
There are several quite distinct subspecies of White Wagtail. The subspecies commonly found in Britain is Motacilla alba yarrellii in which the male has a glossy black back and the female has a dark grey back.
|The male yarrellii has a dark back as in photo 1 while the female yarrellii has a grey back without
a sharp edge between the neck and the back as seen in photo 2.
Juveniles have grey rather than black and dark sides to the head as can be seen in photos 6 and 7.
|Photo 3 shows a bird with a very pale grey back. Initially I reckoned it was a female M. a. yarrellii rather than a M. a. alba since an alba in Musselburgh in the autumn, while not unknown, would be very rare according to the Lothian Bird Report. However, "The Birds of Scotland " has a very interesting section on M. a. alba and points out that many birds in autumn plumage have been misidentified in the past and that the autumn migration is in fact much larger than previously thought. It now seems likely that this bird is a M. a. alba .|
|Given its name it is gratifying that it wags its long tail almost
incessantly. Its call sound as though it is constantly saying "Chiswick, Chiswick"
It is as much a town bird as a country bird and is often found close to water.
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