Grey Wagtail/Motacilla cinerea

Grey Wagtail/Motacilla cinerea - Photographer: Николай Нейков
Grey Wagtail/Motacilla cinerea - Photographer: Plamen Dimitrov
Grey Wagtail/Motacilla cinerea - Photographer: Plamen Dimitrov
Grey Wagtail/Motacilla cinerea - Photographer: Plamen Dimitrov

L 17-20 cm. Breeds in scattered pairs on small, fast-flowing watercourses with plenty of exposed rocks in and alongside the water and with woodland or at least rows of trees along the banks; at times also on lakeshores and slower rivers. Mostly resident in Britain & Ireland; also migrants and winterers from N Europe (passage Aug- Oct). Nests in rock crevice, cavity in stone bridge, mill foundations etc. beside water.
IDENTIFICATION: Compared with the other wagtails, Grey Wagtail has longest tail and shortest legs. Constantly pumps its long tail, and so strongly that whole rear end rocks with it. In all plumages bright yellow vent and also yellow-green rump. Legs brownish-pink (other wagtails black). Grey upperparts contrast with black wings. Tertials edged (yellow-)white. Distinct pale supercilium. In deeply undulating flight, when long tail is very striking, shows a broad white wing-bar, most evident from below. - Adult male summer: Black bib. Pure white supercilium and submoustachial stripe. Rest of underparts yellow (but flanks sometimes a little paler). - Adult female summer: Throat white with some greyish-black; sometimes more a-like with much black on throat, but always shows some white, and has buff-white supercilium and indistinct submoustachial stripe. - Winter: Pale throat with no dark feathering. Older birds are yellower on breast and whiter on throat, younger ones paler yellow on breast and buff-tinged on throat.
VOICE: Call basically like White Wagtail’s but sharper and higher-pitched, ‘zi-zi’. Alarm a repeated ‘süiht’, often interspersed with call. Song a short, mechanical series of sharp notes, ‘ziss-ziss-ziss-ziss’, often mixed with alternative phrase of higher notes, ‘si si si siü’.

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