Glendale, NSW - Wagtail description

Subject: Glendale, NSW - Wagtail description
From: palliser <>
Date: Tue, 07 Apr 1998 22:03:52 +1000
Niven and others

As requested here is part of the description taken directly from my note
book (please excuse format) relating to the Glendale Wagtail.  The identity
and age of this bird is still being worked on but it looks like a female
lugens (Black-backed Wagtail) perhaps at the end of its first year.(A first
summer bird?) but further research is needed to be certain. Motacilla alba
ocularis is still the main problem. For those that are interested it was
still present at dusk today (7th April 1998). 

Wagtail Sp - Glendale Newcastle NSW 6th March 1998

Forehead white, upper crown and nape black similar in colour to tail.  Dark
line through the eye somewhat worn perhaps.  dark eye, short pipit like
bill entirely black, on one side of the face an additional tiny dark line
extending from the bill below the eye stripe. Eye somewhat exposed.  Nape
also black and contrasting strongly with the colour of the mantle.
Yellowish wash to the face - both above and below the eye. More white than
yellow.  Chin and throat white.

Back colour uniform mid-grey contrasting with black nape & crown and
uppertail.  Uppertail coverts, rump and even the lower back black - not
neatly cut off, but not fading into the colour of the back ie contrasting
strongly. Darker grey patch visible towards the shoulder - only clearly
visible in strong light.  Black rump and uppertail not visible with wings
closed only when partially open so a feature difficult to see side on.
Tail very long and black above to the tip with obvious white edges
particularly broad when fanned.  White (greyish to some very minor degree)
greater covert bar.  Rather untidy feathering on the front edge or the
covert bar.  Tertials very long and clearly visible with wing closed.
Lower tertial outer edge broadly white, the tertial directly above darkest
being blackish brown with a lot less white, and the upper one (maybe two)
being paler brown and slightly worn at the edges. (check which feathers -
photos should show more precise detail). 

Solid large very broad black breast patch kinked on the upper edge of each
side not extending on to the throat. And separated from the shoulder
portion of the wing.  Underparts mainly white - not very neat though - a
dusky hint to the flanks - perhaps a result of the bird sitting on the
ground so often ( it having one unusable leg)  legs and feet black.
Undertail white - but not seen well.

Wings in flight showing a lot of white, but very difficult to observe well
due to speed of wings - centre of the wing the whitest, a very large white
patch visible, difficult to work out where - appeared to be white on both
the secondaries and primaries to some degree. very extensive - hopefully
photos will show more.  extreme primary tips dark,

Call a two note sweet fast pipit like call uttered in flight.   Observed
feeding on insects, crushed peanuts and a small snail, tail fanned
occasionally just before taking flight, tail bobbing after landing.
Preferred to remain in the confines of the car park verges.  The damaged
leg was obviously awkward for the bird causing it to fly more than one
might expect.  Would take short rests often by sitting on the ground.    

Regards and good birding
Tony Palliser

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