YELLOW WAGTAIL Motacilla flava
Uncommon migrant breeder/passage visitor (less numerous than in previous years)
Most recent sightings:
With no breeding records, and only four reports, all of migrants, the poor showing of many previous years again prevails. A total of five birds were seen at Thornton Moor in August, and one was at Haverah Park in September.
Compared to other recent years, a pleasing increase in the number of records. Two birds were at Weecher Reservoir on 20th June, and at Bolton Abbey on 7th September, with a single at Marley Farm the day after. Migration at Thornton Moor produced one record of flava wagtail species in May, two in April and September, and three in August.
With seven records of 10 birds, the recent improvement has been maintained. In April, singles were seen at Leeshaw on the 20th, and at Oxenhope on the 25th. Return passage produced a total of four birds at Caldene Fields, and, in September, individuals at Barden on the 3rd and Warley Moor on the 11th, and two were above Riddlesden on the 8th.
The recent improvement has, alas, been short-lived, as there were only three records in 2012. Spring migration produced singles at Otley Wetland on 14th April, and Caldene Fields on 6th May, and the one autumn report was of a bird at Menston on 2nd October.
There was a slight improvement on 2012, but the number of sightings remains pitifully small. Two males and a female were reported at Dowley Gap Sewage Works on 17th April and on the 13th May a male bird was feeding on grass cropped by horses at a once traditional site by Knotford Nook. The other reports concerned six birds all seen within seven days at the beginning of September. Firstly there was a single bird at Lindley Wood Reservoir (2nd), then three birds flew south over Caldene Fields, and finally a couple briefly dropped into fields at Glovershaw (9th).
The number of these birds locally, as well as nationally, has collapsed dramatically over the past 25 years, due to significant changes in farming methods. The species is now unable to sustain sufficient breeding numbers and sightings have become rare. However, there were two reports, the first being a female at Manywells on 17th April and the second a bird seen amongst horses at Faweather Farm, Sconce on 31st August.
Two males seen near the show ground at Otley on 4th May were on passage, but another on the river at Gallows Hill in June and July, was possibly breeding, though this was unconfirmed. A bird was in Denholme Clough at the end of August and another was present at the watchpoint at Oxenhope on 15th September.