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I’m sure you’ve all seen wagtails of some description. They’re those cute little birds with the long tails that continuously bob up and down, seemingly not able to sit still – my mother would’ve said they had ants in their pants! Wagtails come in several varieties; on the left below is a Pied wagtail (Motacilla alba yarrellii) and on the right a Grey wagtail (Motacilla cinerea). Nothing unusual here. But then …

This little birdie was on the rooftop of my neighbour’s garden studio a couple of days ago.


It sat, bobbing and calling, for about 10 minutes, so I was able to watch and get some photos (though it was distant and through double glazing, so my images are not the best). Though the colours of both wagtail species vary as the birds mature and through the seasons, this little one appeared to have the head of a Pied wagtail and the body of a Grey wagtail. So, I tweeted photos to the RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) and they responded that it was ‘either a partially leucistic Grey wagtail or colour variation due to being between plumages or a geographical variation and the Grey wagtail has flown over from a different continent.’ It’s one of Nature’s little mysteries …