|My goodness, that brickwork needs pointing...|
|Or in extra fuzzy closeup|
It was particularly nice to see her because one of the many species of wheatear first got me actively birdwatching, more than simply being generally interested in Nature. In 1978 I visited Israel, youth-hostelling by bus, and found my way down to the Sinai peninsula, then occupied by Israeli forces. From the bus window I caught sight of a vividly-costumed small black-and-white bird. I had to know what it was, and realised that I hadn't really looked at it well enough to pick out the features that distinguished it from other related species. I did rather better with the Common Bulbul, the middle east's counterpart of the blackbird, with its black head and yellow bottom. I bought my first pair of binoculars and then I was hooked.
And yesterday we had a visitor of another species new to our records at La Forge - a Yellow Wagtail motacilla flava flavissima Bergeronnette flaveole on its way to the British Isles or the Channel coast to breed. This smallest of all the wagtails comes in a number of subspecies in a range of colour variations. The subspecies that breeds in Britain is yellow below and olive-green on top including the head, and is generally paler than other subspecies. The subdued colour tones of our visitor suggests that it was a female. The Central European subspecies Blue-headed wagtail motacilla flava flava Bergeronnette Printanière has a slaty-grey cap and much more contrast between back and front.
This one was on the Kingfisher Trap* when I looked out to check on the moorhens' nest. It bobbed up and down and wagged its tail, demonstrating that it was not a chiffchaff. I fumbled for my camera, which was beside me, and when I looked up it had just taken flight and was heading down river. I last saw one of these just outside Reeth in the Yorkshire Dales (actually quite a party of these) so it's a little taste of home.
|Motacilla flava flavissima - Photo by Andreas Trepte|
The olive-green back and head show up well in this fine picture of an adult female by Andreas Trepte. You can see more of his work on his website www.photo-natur.de Officially the English name for this subspecies is Yellow-crowned wagtail, which I don't get at all, and I've never heard anyone use it. The german names for this subspecies are Englische Schafstelze (English wagtail - OK, I get that) or Gelbkopf-Schafstelze (yellow-headed wagtail - no, they've done it again).
By contrast, this is a young female motacilla flava flava, bergeronette printanière. She wears a slaty grey cap, contrasting with the green of her back.
|Motacilla flava flava - Photo by Wojsyl|