To understand what I refer to as the mantle: http://www.gull-research.org/indexelements/topography.htmhttp://www.iesmeulmeester.nl/index.php?id=6
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I assume what you refer to as the mantle are mainly the scapulars (or?). I can easily concede that the scaps look somewhat greyish, but not quite as grey as you would expect for a Citrine. To me, the colour is just not a problem for a worn Yellow wag.
Anyway, there are others details that point towards a Yellow wag: the undertail-coverts are yellow (mainly white in Citrine especially those in the far back), and the face pattern lack the typical pale surround to the ear-coverts. Also, the white wing bars should be more obvious on a Citrine at this time of the year, but this too variable to be completely reliable.
Thanks for the comments TTT. I know what you mean by "mantle" but I have to be honest that I can not see any green on the mantle in this bird. Admittedly there is very little of the mantle visible but what little can be seen of it, looks grey to me.
Regardless, I will certainly not argue that this bird is a Citrine Wag, I think I made my hesitation clear on that. I just wanted to be very sure that, if it does turn out to be a Citrine, we find out early enough so I can go twitch it
Here are Trevor Hardaker's comments on the bird:
Trevor Hardaker wrote:
I am accessing this email from a remote computer (as I was quite interested in seeing the photo as quickly as possible after Dewald's call), so I don't have any reference material here with me at the moment.
However, I believe that this is a Yellow Wagtail (an immature male possibly in its second year) and probably of the race flavissima. The wing bars are not really strong enough to consider Citrine in my opinion which, if memory serves me correctly, will show stronger wing bars than this at all ages. I also feel that the darker ear coverts showing on this bird are more a feature of Yellow rather than Citrine which tends to show a concolourous yellow head.
I need to check the books on ageing, but I have a vague recollection that the younger Yellows might not always show the olive tinges to the back which might explain the colour of the back on your bird. I have a feeling that first summer males tend to be paler yellow underneath than this, but that second summer individuals are brighter, but again, I am working from memory here on a species than I don't get to see terribly often down here in the Western Cape, so I am perhaps not as on top of the ageing issues with this species as I should be due to the lack of time that I get to spend with this species.
When I get home this evening, I will "hit the books" and hopefully be able to come back to you with a slightly more definitive answer, but for the time being, I am fairly convinced that this is a Yellow Wagtail.