Yellow Wagtail report from Ocean Shores

Hal Opperman halop at
Fri Sep 15 13:17:13 PDT 2000

I just received the following report from Ron Simons who asked me to post it.

Hal Opperman
Medina, Washington
mailto:halop at

>Date: Fri, 15 Sep 2000 15:21:07 -0400

>From: "Ronald C. Simons" <Ronsimons at>

>Subject: One for the Records Committee

>Sender: "Ronald C. Simons" <Ronsimons at>

>To: Hal Opperman <halop at>


>Yellow Wagtail


>Damon Point, Ocean Shores. Seen Thursday, September 14, 2:30 PM


> On Sept. 14, Steve Caldwell and I were walking back along the road

>from the Damon Point pond towards the gate when a bird alighted briefly on

>the gravel a few feet in front of us, then flew up across the small berm

>separating the fields from the road and disappeared. All I saw was a long

>dark-brown tail with gleaming white outer tail feathers. The tail was not



> We quickly realized that this was something unusual, so we climbed

>the berm, where we saw the bird perched on a log about ten feet away. The

>bird saw us and flew off to stand on a stump about 20 feet away, where it

>remained for about a minute before flying off into the field, disappearing

>into the grass.


> On the stump, the bird was in clear, unobstructed view, in good

>light. It was roughly thrush-shaped, but had a more pointed bill and was

>much slimmer, longer tailed, and longer legged than any thrush. The long

>legs and long, dark tail were especially striking, and the bird was

>repeatedly raising and dropping that long tail. The bird was olive yellow

>above and pale yellow beneath, from throat to and including undertail

>coverts. It had a faint dark cheek, which gave the impression of a mask

>running through and back from the eye, and there were lighter yellow

>streaks on the wings. I had seen wagtails (Yellow, Grey, White, and "Pied")

>in Europe and immediately recognized it as a wagtail, probably a Yellow

>Wagtail. Steve, an experienced birder, immediately realized that it was

>different in shape and markings from any bird he'd previously seen.


> A look at the National Geographic Field Guide confirmed that this

>was probably a Yellow Wagtail, but the bird was lighter both above and

>below and less distinctly marked than those in the illustrations, which

>show only the breeding male, juvenile, and "immature" plumages. Immediately

>on arriving home I checked three European guides. Only the Brun and Singer

>"Hamlyn" guide showed the plumage we saw, which confirmed the

>identification as Yellow Wagtail and makes the bird apparently a female.

>The guide does not specify whether this duller plumage is that of a bird in

>primary or alternate plumage.


> We went back to the car, and with Sue Trevathan, went back to

>search for the bird so that she might see it also, but we could not

>relocate it. The point on the road that the bird was seen is approximately

>half-way between the gate and the turn-off to the pond.


> Ron Simons


> ronsimons at






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