Easterly winds bring visitors

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You would think bird’s name was fairly permanent, wouldn’t you? writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

After all, a blackbird is a blackbird and a wren is a wren.

However, the taxonomists, as the folk who name our wildlife are known, are forever reclassifying species and changing their names.

Take for instance the Yellow Wagtail. This is our scarcest local wagtail species, after the Pied and the Grey.

Here in the Lothians, we host the most northerly breeding Yellow wagtails in the United Kingdom.

However, Wagtails are a widespread family with the result that the Yellow Wagtails which breed in Western Europe have blue heads and are known as Blue Headed Wagtails. Of course, the Yellow Wagtails on the borders where these two populations meet tend to be hybrids, showing characteristics of both eastern and western subspecies. These are known as Channel Wagtails.

At this time of year when so many of our migratory birds are on their way back from Africa, birdwatchers hope for east winds which can blow European migrants over to Britain.

Such conditions can mean a scattering of Blue Headed and Channel Wagtails can sometimes turn up in Scotland.

No doubt that is how I came across this gorgeous Channel Wagtail at Torness the other day.

By the time you read his he may be in Poland or even Russia.

Such is the footloose and free way of wild birds.