Country corner

Grey wagtail
Grey wagtail

Our local bird news website had reported a scarcity of Grey Wagtails this spring, so I was pleased when Abbie Marland emailed me this fine picture of an adult feeding a Mayfly to a juvenile on the Tyne at Haddington.

Grey is an unfortunate name for this very colourful species, probably due to the name Yellow Wagtail being given to another more yellow but much less common species of wagtail.

The bird on the right is easily recognised as a female.

Males have smart black bibs.

Compared to the abundant Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtails are much more closely associated with water, particularly running water.

Also, it has the longest and most frequently wagged tail of the three British Wagtail species!

This is a rather nostalgic species for me as the Tyne at Haddington was very much intertwined with my boyhood and it’s wonderful wildlife has a lot to do with my lifelong interest in Nature.

Nesting close to the water in overhanging banks and in masonry gaps and ledges under bridges, Grey Wagtail nests are vulnerable to sudden rises in river levels.

Hard winters, as we have experienced lately, also limit the number of this species. However, it is amazing the difference one good breeding season can make to the fortunes of birds. Here’s hoping this scene of fledgling Grey Wagtails being fed by attentive parents is a common one this summer.

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