01 December, 2015

Twitching the Amur Wagtail

Amur Wagtail (Motacilla (alba) leucopsis) in Lahti Finland. Photo credits to Micha Fager
On Friday, 27th of October, Pekka Saikko found a strange wagtail from Kujala dumping ground in Lahti, southern Finland. Identification was not immedietaly clear, and only few people managed to see the bird before sunset. But already during Friday it became clear that the bird is the very first Amur Wagtail aka Chinese White Wagtail (Motacilla alba leucopsis OR Motacilla leucopsis) in Finland and only the 3rd in whole Western Palearctic area, earlier observations are from UK in 5th of April 2004 and Norway in 1st of November 2008. During next days, the dumping ground has been visited by a big number of Finnish twitchers, even though the Amur Wagtail is considered just as a subspecies of the common White Wagtail which breeds in Finland. But who knows, maybe this long distance flyer will be splitted to separate species some day.

Personally I could not leave to Lahti not untill Sunday. I arrived there with Risto Vilpas just some 15 minutes before the bird had disappeared, flying high over the forest to west... Next four hours we stomped around the huge dumping place, desperately seeking this small bird. Finally we got the rare bird alert - the bird had returned to the original place. But... when we got back there, it had again left, this time already probably to some sleeping place... So we got dipped out, and it really felt bitter...

Sunday afternoon, disappointed twitchers... Photo Olli Haukkovaara

Fortunately the bird stayed there and we managed get back on Tuesday morning. The Amur Wagtail had just arrived and there it was, we got very good look on it when it was feeding in waterfront of small pond. Even though this was not an actual lifer, it was really cool to see a bird that flew to Finland from China :)

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