Wonder at the wagtail

Wonder at the wagtail


Posted 18th Dec 2017 by Peter Byrne


Image courtesy of © Wildstock

Why not take a break from the Christmas shopping and instead marvel at the wagtails who share our city centres with us?

As winter sets in, everyone seems to head off to the shops, whether they're stocking up on supplies or are preparing for the excesses of the coming festive season. However, as the shops are closing and the crowds head home, a different group takes over the city centres. Keep your eyes peeled and you'll notice them, gathering on the rooftops in rowdy gangs.

Pied wagtails will spend the majority of the year in the countryside, in ones and twos. However, as winter approaches, they will start roosting communally, generally in our town centres. As dusk starts to fall, small groups gather, start to gather, with their 'chizzik' calls barely noticeable above the urban hustle and bustle.

However, as small groups become bigger groups, the first birds will head down off the roof tops and in to their roost trees. The ornamental trees which are planted around shopping centres or in supermarket car parks are particular favourites, often seen near to street lights. As daylight fades, more and more birds pour down into the favoured trees, with the biggest roosts often numbering in the hundreds, who sleep the night away amongst twinkling Christmas lights.

How to do it

Keep your ears open for the unmistakable buzzy 'chizzik' call of the pied wagtails and your eyes peeled for their bounding long-tailed flight. Birds will often gather on the ground in car parks before moving up to the roofs, all the while unnoticed by the busy people below.

If you're unable to get to one of the special places listed below...Most town centres have their own wagtail roost, so try looking upwards on your way home.

Special spots

Suffolk - there is a beautiful pied wagtail tree in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, next to The Nutshell (Britain's smallest pub).

Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts





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