Monday, 12 March 2012

Black & White.

White Wagtail. Pete Woodruff.

You can always tell a photograph of mine by the lack of quality!....

The White Wagtails (WW) have arrived in the south as have the Wheatear, but you'll probably have to wait a few days to find one if you live in the same area as I do. The one in the pic above I found at Conder Pool 6 April 2009, in the past two years my firsts have been at Cockersands 25 March in 2010, and at Aldcliffe 21 March 2011. Although I've not done a search for dates, Cockersands has produced double figures of the WW given I had visited on the right day at the right time, often the case with birding.

The WW are pretty straight forward to ID in the spring - but a different story in the autumn - although my pic doesn't show a particularly clean flank, it is one of the characteristics of the species which make for the ID along with the black bib and head which never meet as can be seen in the picture above, these features and the clean-looking ash-grey mantle make it all the more easy for identification. Sexing the spring WW is mainly possible with reference to the crown, on the male the black is clearly demarcated from the mantle, on the female this is less clear-cut, sometimes with grey mixed in.

Northern WW's are long distance migrants which winter mostly in Africa, and often south of the Sahara. On passage today void of doing research I'm not well up on facts and figures regarding numbers, but some good examples of the past have been, up to 50 on the Keer Estuary in April 1962, and 60 roosting with Yellow Wagtails at Sunderland Point at the end of the same month in 1965...well I'd like to have witnessed that one for sure but I'm not sure any of us are ever likely to see that again.     

Pied Wagtail. John Bateman.

In JB's photograph the distinction between the Pied Wagtail and White Wagtail is obvious, in simple terms this is a clear back and white bird with 'dirty' flanks. 

Mediterranean Gull. Copy Permitted.

This adult Mediterranean Gull found at St Michael's on Wyre has acquired its summer black hood to join the Black and White brigade. 

Comma Warren Baker 

And the Comma butterfly was found by my man in Kent....another nice sign of the approaching spring of 2012. I get rather depressed when I think I'll be going to miss seeing the arrival of the first summer visitors....but I'd better not go any further down that road again!  

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I've only ever found one White Wagtail here on my patch Pete.

Enjoy what you can of the Spring birds :-)