Sometimes when bird-watching, something odd triggers a response in the brain that says "that's unusual". This happened to me recently at Papunya. I was watching a Glossy Ibis and a Yellow-billed Spoonbill, themselves rather bizarre in a small remote community in the middle of Australia, when something caught my eye closer to me. I watched this little bird do an unfamiliar, yet not unseen before by me, flight pattern. A short flight, and then quick bobs for insects. My brain starting saying "Wagtail", but not the normal Willie Wagtail we have here, more like the Grey Wagtail I saw at the Alice Springs Water Treatment Plant last year. Even though the camera is still not working properly, I proceeded to try to get some images for identification. Alas, they weren't great, but I thought I could still ID the bird from the photos. My first thought was that it looked very similar to the Grey Wagtail. I then followed the bird as it continued further away from me and drove the car to the other end of the ponds (I can't go inside the ponds as it is fenced off and only workers are allowed inside). A few more shots from the new location and I was starting to get excited, and decided to use Twitter to alert some other Alice Springs birders of the find. I eventually managed to send through a photo off the camera via the iPad. "Looks like a Grey...... hang on, someone else has said looks more like a Yellow..." came the replies. Finally after a lot of people's opinions, it turned out to be an Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis), not unheard of as a sighting in Australia, but a rare find. I owe a great big thank you to Will Cormick who works at the Alice Springs Water Treatment Plant who had shown me the jizz of the Grey Wagtail. Without this knowledge I probably would have overlooked this bird. Also to Chris Watson who helped enormously in the ID of the Yellow v the Grey and Jeff Davies who assisted Chris and therefore myself, and finally Rohan Clarke from Birdline Australia who finalised the sub-species. The birding fraternity really is an amazing group considering the majority do this in their own spare time and all free of charge.
Apologies for the quality of the photos, but here they are:
Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla tschutschensis)