White-throated Wagtail - Motacilla (flava) cinereocapilla

On Sunday May 2nd 2004 Eddy Nieuwstraten en Mark Zekhuis were birding in the Makkumerzuidwaard near Makkum, Friesland (northern part of the Netherlands). Around 11:00 hours they chased a wagtail from the path and heard it's harsh srrieie call, reminding them of Citrine Wagtail Motacilla citreola. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a common Yellow Wagtail Motacilla flava. However, when looking closer, it had a white throat, a sooty grey head and a very short supercilium. Eddy and Mark called some birders, asking for details how to identify Ashy-headed Wagtails. When the flight-call was heard again and was considered to be harsher than Yellow Wagtail, they decided to warn other birders by the pager system they had found an Ashy-headed Wagtail Motacilla (flava) cinereocapilla. That evening and the following days hundreds of birders came to see this bird and it became clear it was an adult and therefore not a first-summer Motacilla (flava) thunbergii.

5 May 2004, Makkumer Zuidwaard, Makkum Fr; © Bas v/d Boogaard.

5 May 2004, Makkumer Zuidwaard, Makkum Fr; © Bas v/d Boogaard.

14 May 2004, Makkumer Zuidwaard, Makkum Fr; © Dick Groenendijk.

The bird stayed till May 20th and was holding territory in a reedbed. In the end, the bird was accepted as a 'White-throated' Wagtail Motacilla iberiae/cinereocapilla. Iberian Wagtails sometimes lack the white supercilium before the eye, to make things more complicated. It also could be originating from southern France. In that area the taxa iberiae and cinereocapilla supposedly hybridise (cf Dutch Birding 26 (3): 220-222, 2004).
In 2011 the Dutch Committe voor Systematics decided to lump Italian and Iberian Wagtail into one polytypic species, White-throated Wagtail Motacilla cinereocapilla with subspecies cinereocapilla and iberiae.

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