White Wagtail records 1998-2007
This page originally looked at the occurrences of White Wagtail between 1998 and 2002. It's now been updated to include all records up to 2007.
The Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii is a British sub-species of the nominate race White Wagtail Motacilla alba (shown right) The White Wagtail and a reasonably common Spring passage migrant across Nottinghamshire. It's occurrence at Eakring is not completely limited to the Spring migration period, but the earlier part of the year does dominate the percentage of the area's records.

The situation is similar over the county as a whole though, with birdwatchers being led by identification guides into the belief that the species is difficult to identify during the Autumn. If seen well (and the relevant features noted) many return-migrant adults can still be almost as distinct as those of Spring.

When the Spring occurrences of both races are produced in graph form as shown below, then it becomes clear that (at least here) there is very very little over-lapping of records during the March-May period.

Spring White Wagtail records

The earliest date for White Wagtail here is March 19th, 2002. This was a relatively early individual, with the last week of March usually producing the first records. Interestingly this more or less coincides with the end of the Pied Wagtail's Spring migration period and is a feature not immediately obvious, unless such a graph is produced. The Pied Wagtail produces a relatively short period of migration, almost totally confined to two weeks in late March, with just three April records within the period of study. Although the calls of each are similar, White Wagtail's is generally quieter and more subdued than the Pied Wagtail. It is quite distinct when compared to grounded individuals, but cannot be relied upon for identification of overhead passage birds for obvious reasons, so although it is possible that many White Wagtails are missed among fly-over Pied Wagtails, the graph (and the fact that grounded Pied Wagtail numbers rarely increase during March here) suggests otherwise.

White Wagtail records at Eakring 1998-2007
. .
1998 ..... March 31-April 2nd; April 13-14th; April 15-16th; April 28-May 8th; May 14th.
1999 ..... April 26th; April 28th; May 4-6th; May 14th.
2000 ..... March 27th; April 14-15th; April 19th.
2001 ..... April 9-10th; April 10th; April 12th; May 12th.
2002 ..... March 19th; April 28-29th; May 3rd.
2003 ..... A single at Eakring Flash, eventually flew off north, March 15th; One at Eakring Field Farm March 23rd; One at Tug Bridge Farm April 5th.
2004 ..... One moving north-west, March 21st; A male near Church Hill April 3rd.
2006 ..... One at Tug Bridge Farm April 16th.
2007 ..... One moving north March 31st; A male flying north-west April 18th.
  Like the Pied Wagtail, White Wagtails tend to favour the same farmland habitat here, the most favoured sites are bare/open fields (especially near water) As such, many records come from available fields as pre-sown Sugar beet, Bean, or first year set-aside fields near to Eakring Flash. Unlike many other Spring migrants, White Wagtails show more of a tendency to remain on-site for up to several days. This is an unusual feature among most Spring migrants. Many male White Wagtails are often persistantly harrassed by male Pied Wagtails which hold territory in nearby Eakring village. Such harrassment has not been noted among Pied Wagtail males (even without male White Wagtail present)

Over the years 1998-2007, White Wagtail occurrences have been within three distinct periods. Most records coming during mid-April and late April/early May. The overall Nottinghamshire view mirrors occurrences here, the Birds of Nottinghamshire Annual Report 2000 stating a peak from mid-March-late April.

Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
1998     1 4 2               7
1999       2 2               4
2000     1 2           3     6
2001       3 1               4
2002     1 1 1               3
2003     2 1                 2
2004     1 1                 2
2006       1                 1
2007     1 1                 2
Autumn White Wagtail records

The area has produced just one Autumn record, that of three with Pied Wagtails in fields adjacent to Eakring Flash on October 5th 2000 and coming just after a rather early Pied Wagtail migratory peak that year.