Contributed by Veronica Foo.
On 3 October 2017, following Mr Lim Kim Keang’s alert of a few wagtail species sighting at Yishun, I went down in the evening to a block of flats to see for myself this interesting phenomenal congregation and roosting of the wagtail species. With dimming light, grey sky and light drizzle, I did not expect anything much.
When I reached at the block of flats in the early evening, I was greeted by a small flock of Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) flying above the roof top of an opposite block of flats and some were seen perched along the roof top parapet and the central antennae.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) perched on the aerial antennae.
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) perched on roof parapet.
A Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava) was also seen perched momentarily before it was startled by more incoming flock of Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea). It flew too soon to get a record shot of it. There must have been more than a hundred of them. Alfred Chia arrived slightly after me and he too expressed the large number of Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) seen as unusual, as based on previous report and status, they are an uncommon winter visitor and very small numbers were seen during each migratory period.
A surprising find were a pair of White Wagtails (Motacilla alba) and Forest Wagtails (Dendronanthus indicus) seen together on the roof top as well as roosting subsequently among the palm tree on the ground.
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba) on roof top
Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus) on rooftop
As it was my first time observing such large numbers of Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea) as well as the congregational roosting of all the 4 species together, it certainly was a sighting to behold.
Forest Wagtail (Dendronanthus indicus) roosting in the palm fronds among the Grey Wagtails (Motacilla cinerea).
The puzzling questions that come up after this phenomenal observation:
- What drew the large numbers of Grey Wagtails here?
- It was a surprise that the Forest Wagtails and White Wagtails were also seen together despite the differences in their habitat/feeding behaviour. As each species were seen in a pair, did they feel vulnerable to the point of seeking refuge amongst the large flock of Grey Wagtails?
- Since such a large number of Grey Wagtail were seen in the evening, where do they forage during the day without anyone noticing or reporting?
- Was there previous observation of a few species of Wagtails roosting together without any territorial conflict?
Reference: Yong Ding Li, Lim Kim Chuah and Lee Tiah Khee. A Naturalist Guide to the Birds of Singapore. John Beaufoy Publishing 2013. All photos: Veronica Foo.