Yellow Wagtail – races

Motacilla flava – SIGLEN FELEN – Passage migrant, has bred. Not recorded from December to February

As well as the breeding and probable breeding birds noted before, male Blue–headed WagtailsM. f. flava, which breed in Europe from southern Scandinavia to France,have been recorded in the spring on several occasions: at Skokholm on the 15th May 1958, on the 12th – 14th May 1959, two on the 18th May 1961, on the 29th & 30th May 1963, on the 29th June 1964, on the 27th May 1967, on the 17th May 1982, on the 16th May 1983, on the 12th June 1984, on the 15th – 18th June 1987, on the 11th – 17th June 1988, on the 4th, 8th, 11th and 13th – 14th May 1989, on the 11th May and 27th May 1991, on the 6th May, 22nd and 29th May 1992, on the 27th May 1993, on the 20th April 1996, and on the 26th May 1997, at Skomer on the 21st May 1997, on the 29th April 2000, on the 18th – 23rd  May 1996, on the 14th May 1992, on the 21st May 1993, and at Ramsey on 18th May 1985.

There are also autumn sightings on record, which should perhaps be treated with caution until any recorded details of their appearance can be scrutinised. Plumage becomes abraded and bleached during the summer and moult to winter plumage occurs in August and September. The records are included for future evaluation: two Skomer on the 18th September 1961, two there on the 27th August 1990, one Dale airfield on the 20th September 1986, one Skokholm on the 23rd August 1988, one there on the 4th September 2000, with two on the 24th September 2000, one on the 1st October 2001 and one on the 9th – 12th September 2003.   

Grey – headed Wagtails M. f. thunbergi breed from central and north Scandinavia to north – west Siberia. Males of this race were recorded on passage through Pembrokeshire as follows: at Skokholm on the 31st May 1978, on the 13th – 15th April 1979, on the 13th May 1979 (1979 records no longer acceptable to BBRC), on the 17th May 1982, on the 10th – 12th May 1987, on the 3rd – 5th May 1989, on the 31st May – 5th June 1990, and on the 25th June 1992 (record no longer acceptable to BBRC), at Strumble Head on the 29th May 1983 and Flimston on the 30th May 1998.

A male Spanish Blue – headed Wagtail M. f. iberiae, which breeds in Iberia and Tunisia, was recorded at Skokholm on the 19th April 1989. (record no longer acceptable by BBRC – moved to ‘not proven’)

A male Ashy – headed Wagtail M. f. cinereocapilla, which breeds in Sicily, Sardinia, Italy and Slovenia, was recorded at Skokholm from the 17th to the 20th May 1992. (record no longer acceptable to BBRC)

A male Black – headed Wagtail M. f. feldegg, which breeds in the Balkans, Turkey, Caspian, Iran and Afghanistan, was recorded at Skomer on the 7th May 1986.

Graham Rees (County bird recorder 1981 to 2007)

NB – Records reviewed by BBRC in 2020, and those no longer acceptable have been marked as such.

More about the Yellow Wagtail in Pembrokeshire