Aberrant Wilie-Wagtail?

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Subject: Aberrant Wilie-Wagtail?
From: "Claire Stevenson" <>
Date: Mon, 18 Mar 2002 21:33:00 +0800
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.
Claire Stevenson
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