Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Yet another New Bird For Britain!!

Thanks to an identification query by Jon Hudson and a rapid interception by RBA's Stuart Piner, the birding fraternity was informed of its first-ever MASKED WAGTAIL last night, a male that had been present in and around Jon's Pembrokeshire garden since at least Sunday morning (27th November 2016). This incredible long-distant vagrant from Kazakhstan is seemingly on winter territory and is showing exceptionally well - favouring the rooftops and gardens of Croft Villas, in the picturesque, tranquil hamlet of Camrose, just NW of Haverfordwest (SatNav SA62 6JF). I and around 60 twitchers made the long journey this morning to SW Wales today and were afforded an excellent display, with the bird showing virtually non-stop. Jon's neighbour was particularly hospitable and invited many of us into his garden so that we could get better and more prolonged studies and were able to sound-record it. Other neighbours were equally as accommodating, especially a couple making tea & coffee for visitors, while the Neighbourhood Watch local police girls came over from Haverfordwest to see what all of the fuss was about!
Masked Wagtail breeds in Central Siberia, from Kazakhstan to NW Mongolia, Iran, Afghanistan to NW China, and winters primarily in Northern India (Assam in particular). It is a pretty abundant species but has only reached the Western Palearctic on just 5 previous occasions, with the most recent photographed in Burgas (Bulgaria) in September 2015 and by the southern Dead Sea (Israel) on 23rd March 2016 (that country's third occurrence in fact).
As the UK400 Club/BBA follows the PSC principles, it recognises '7' of the 11 types of alba wagtail as morphologically distinct species -:
1) White Wagtail Motacilla alba
2) Pied Wagtail Motacilla yarellii
3) Moroccan Pied Wagtail Motacilla subpersonata
4) African Pied Wagtail Motacilla aguimp
5) Masked Wagtail Motacilla personata
6) Chinese Amur/White-faced Wagtail Motacilla leucopsis
7) Kamchatka Pied Wagtail Motacilla lugens

The taxonomical position of other forms such as Swinhoe's, Hodgson's, Streak-eyed & Indian White remain unclear, vexing and more clinal in variation, with wader ranges of overlap and hybridisation