EastLakes Golf Course - more Yellow Wagtail

Subject: EastLakes Golf Course - more Yellow Wagtail
From: "Dean Portelli" <>
Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 20:37:15 +1100
Hi All,

I visited EastLakes Golf Course on Tuesday 28th January. Not one but TWO Yellow Wagtails were seen on the pond opposite Donaldson St, following this initial sighting only a single bird was observed frequenting the western end of this pond. A single bird was later seen on the pond to the west of the Donaldson St pond (i.e the one next to and East of Wentworth Avenue) - this bird was on the mud fringing the vegetation on the eastern end of the pond (close to where the 'creek' that connects the two aforementioned ponds enters the Wentworth Ave pond). The bird frequenting the Donaldson St pond disappeared and then reappeared many times over the day - it was seen flying quite some distance from the pond down to Wentworth Avenue and then back up along the pond and to the eastern-most end of the Donaldson St pond. The wagtail seen on the Wentworth Ave pond was seen very well and I took the following notes of its plumage:
- greyish crown and nape
- pale creamy/whitish eyebrow
- pale straw yellow/brown underparts except lemon-yellow undertail coverts. At one view it appeared that there was a bit of a pale-yellow wash on the breast and towards the belly but this was only weak. - secondaries in closed wing edged pale, but I could not see any edging on the coverts (but this is not to say there wasn't any)
- mantle and back grass-green
- flight feathers dark brown/grey
- outer tail feathers whitish
- dark loral line and possibly postocular line (I only had binoculars), there was certainly no distinct facial mask.
- throat was pale
I believe this bird was a different individual to the one seen frequenting the Donaldson St pond on this day (i.e. the second bird) as this bird was more coloured, the other seeming very brownish although I didn't get very good views of this bird admittedly, however, a fellow birdwatcher who was there said that he clearly saw the netted pattern on the coverts and the bird matched the illustration of a female/nonbreeding male in Pizzey and Knight. It also fits that when I saw the two birds together (during which they chased each other and I lost them!) one appeared overall darker, which is how I would describe the bird I saw in the Wentworth pond compared with the bird seen several times in the Donaldson St pond. I would be interested to hear people's comments on the above plumage description as this doesn't fit in neatly with any illustrations I have seen in any of the field guides - the dorsal seems to fit a bird in breeding plumage but the underside doesn't quite match unless the bird is moulting its underparts but I don't know much about Yellow Wagtail plumage succession so the question goes out to you all.

Other interesting birds included the two FRECKLED DUCK near Wentworth Avenue, 1 male STUBBLE QUAIL and LATHAM'S SNIPE showing well foraging out in the open and even chasing each other (and Sharpies).

PS The Wagtail was also seen chasing a Greenfinch in flight and also a Welcome Swallow when it landed near to the wagtail on the mud, but a swallow also got in on the deal and chased the wagtail around for some time before the wagtail could eventually land.

Well I'm off down south for a bit more than a week so I'm hoping the bitterns may still be there as I didn't get time to go and look for them near the weir!

Cheers, Dean

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