Aberrant Willie Wagtail?
While checking out our block of land I saw about 5
Willie Wagtail Rhipidura leucophrys hawking insects from the ground and
chasing each other, as Willie Wagtail do. One bird in particular caught my eye.
It looked to have white plumage. Thinking it was a trick of the light I ventured
closer. The "Willie-Wagtail" had the typical white chest and underparts
with black head and white eye-brow. The difference was that the upperparts,
wings and tail plumage was dusky "ash" grey, with primaries and tail feathers
lighter still. Other Willie Wagtail in the area looked "normal" colour to the
eye - definate black and white. The flight and
stance was tyical of Wilie Wagtail, no calls were heard, and when at rest the
tail was waved and wings fllicked. The bird was NOT a Grey Fantail and I
pretty certain it was not one of the Flycatchers. I have never seen a true
Wagtail (Motacillidae), however I did not recognise the bird I saw
from the illustrations of this family in Pizzey & Knight. Are mutations of
the Willie Wagtail known to occur?
For those of you nearby, the bird was seen in an
old market garden in the new "Anning Rise / The Grove" housing estate in South
Lake, Perth. Go down Briggs Street, turn into Dongara Way (not marked and no
road so you'll have to go by foot), head to the end and turn right. There is a
small patch of trees and grass, boardering the market garden, at the west end of
the unfinished road. The bird was seen here at 3-3:30pm on Sunday 17th March
2002. Look forward to hearing from you and I'll try to get photos next time I
visit the block - if it's still there.