White wagtail really wags its tail

White wagtail’s hangout

This past Friday I had the chance to see a white wagtail hopping around on Outer Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro! Why is that interesting? Well, the white wagtail isn’t from around these parts you see. This feathered critter is typically found in Asia and has only been spotted in California 27 times.

At first I didn’t bother trying to go see this special visitor because I assumed it would fly off right away. Birds are apt to do that as you know. But for some unknown reason, this lone white wagtail has decided to hangout on Outer Cabrillo Beach near Cabrillo Marine Aquarium for close to a week. This is a really big deal in the birding community because now obsessed birders can spot a bird they would normally have to fly to Asia to see. Instead, of traversing the Pacific Ocean, all U.S. birders have to do is fly to Los Angeles and drive to San Pedro to cross it off their bird list.

As I was looking for the white wagtail, I saw a man on Outer Cabrillo Beach with a backpack, huge camera lens, tripod and binoculars. A birder! So I walked over to ask him if he had seen the white wagtail. It turned out he had just flown in from Albany, New York for a trip he had won during a fundraising auction sponsored by his local Audubon Chapter. News travels fast in the bird world and he figured he might as well drive down to San Pedro and see the white wagtail before heading to Palm Desert.

It turned out he had spotted the white wagtail several times. Together we looked for it again. He of course spotted it first since all I brought along was my eyes and cell phone camera. The white wagtail was really fun to watch; it flies in little spurts and then hops around on the beach or rocks. When it’s standing or hopping, the white wagtail presses its tail down three times in a row. Then it hops off and press its tail down three times in a row again. A bird version of tail wagging and hence the name white wagtail. They like to eat flies and insects, which thankfully there are still plenty of for this white wagtail despite being so far from home.

No one knows why the white wagtail decided to cross the Pacific and hangout on Outer Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro. But I’m glad it stopped by. I didn’t manage to get a photo of the white wagtail, but thankfully Steve Wolfe of Lone Wolfe Photography got a great one that he posted on his website. As you can see from Steve’s photo, it’s a cute, small bird with white and tan feathers and a pretty long tail.

Now the question is: How long will the white wagtail stay in LA? The answer: Until the second before I show up with a real camera…


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