Pied Wagtail

Fairly small birds (16.5 – 19 cm), Wagtails have a characteristic bobbing tail action, which makes it quite difficult to get a shot where the tail isn’t blurred.  This one is a Pied Wagtail.  (Please note I had originally labelled this as a White Wagtail, in error).

To get this shot, one of several, I had laid down flat on a gravel bar by the side of the river and waited for the bird to come to me.  I suspect that passers-by must have thought I was a bit ‘wet in the head’.

Ideally I’d like to get a photo of one with a winged insect in its beak, but while I see them catch quite a few, they move very quickly and it’s difficult to get a focus lock on them when they’re doing their feeding thing.


28 thoughts on “Pied Wagtail

  1. Is that maybe why my parents did not think photography was a suitable profession? 😉
    I like the header version too, by the way… just the feet of the bird leaving you wondering what it might be…

    • My parents were happy with whatever profession I chose – they just wanted me to get off my backside and get one! 😉

      I try to make all my headers so they make the viewer want to see more or provide specific detail of the ‘full size’ version to support the small size I prefer to off a whole image at.

      • The wagtail is one of my favourites. I get them in the garden a lot and there is something so characterful and endearing about them. Will look forward to more pictures. I’ve not actually tried taking photos of birds but I take delivery tomorrow of a Nikkor 18-200mm lens so perhaps I’ll get a chance. What lens do you use for you bird photography?

      • As a general rule I use a 300mm lens – sometimes with 1.4 converter, but I’m not keen on using it unless I have to as the quality goes down and I lose a stop and a bit. As you will appreciate, the objective is to fill the frame as well as you can so you have to get pretty close for small birds. I’ve used a remote release to good effect – i.e. bird on a stick (prefocus on the stick and wait).

    • Dja know I was going to post it as a Pied Wagtail, as that’s what we’ve always called these things. But I checked my Collins and Pied/White with a grey back are labelled as White and those with ‘glossy black’ back as Pied. I only checked the one book, I have others I’ll research further.
      I’ve several other pictures of Pied/White I’ll check them through too. Thanks for the ‘rattle’. I’ll get back to you.

      • I only assume pied because they are so much more common here. I think I always assume pied when I see them. White wagtails are, I believe, pretty rare sightings here? I am very prepared to be wrong, however. :). At this time of year things get even more complicated, I believe, with juvenile plumage. I read an article in Oitdoor Photographer this month about wagtails. Telling grey, yellow and citrine juveniles apart is horrible tricky.

      • I’m absolutely with you. I would have called Pied but wishing to be accurate I decided to check with my Collins guide, which seems to indicate White – primarily because of it’s grey back – I have other shots of Pied where the back is definitely glossy black. I’ve raised a question in the Bird Forum – I think the accepted identification is a Pied, but checking through their gallery of pictures, most of those identified as White, especially those seen in the UK are identical to this my one. http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=236395
        I’m not particularly bothered either way, as I’m photographing a bird because it’s there and it happens to be X not that I’m photographing X because it’s there, if you understand my drift. 🙂

  2. Great shot!
    Also, to put my grain of salt in your discussion about regarding the species: In so far as Wikipedia can be trusted, it would seem that the Pied is now considered to be a subspecies of the White Wagtail, so I guess you and your reader are both right! And besides, isn’t the Pied’s back much, much darker???

    • As I understand it both White and Pied are both subspecies. Motacilla alba alba and Motacilla alba yarrellii. I’m not sure whether the two subspecies breed together, goodness knows what the outcome is then!
      From my research, I guess the best way to describe each is ‘variable’.
      I shall of course be paying much more attention to White/Pied Wagtails in future and bore the pants off anyone who stops to discuss them with me! 😉 🙂

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