A grey day and a yellow wagtail

yellow wagtail

Yellow wagtail

My better half Alison decided she wanted to hear a cuckoo, and by chance we bumped into a man we’d seen before walking his dog down the River Idle.  He told us there were 3 cuckoos down Chainbridge Lane, part of Idle Valley Nature Reserve.  So, guess where we went the next weekend?  Chainbridge Lane of course.  We were amazed at how big it was, and saw lots of oystercatchers, greylag geese, blackcaps, whitethroats, yellowhammers and many more.  Alison did hear her cuckoo – but very distant and we didn’t see it.

However, on the way out, driving slowly down the lane, Alison said, “Lee, look at the road!” There it was on the gravel in front of us – a beautiful yellow wagtail.  Not to be confused with the grey wagtail, which is similar, but has a grey back.  To my disappointment, it flew off straight away so I didn’t get a good view or any pictures.

A couple of weeks later I drove to one of my regular birding venues down the Chesterfield Canal at Ladybridge.  I walked down the towpath and heard a distinctive “tseep!” – you know if you’ve heard one!  I looked up and there was a yellow wagtail calling at the top of a tree.  I’d click the camera, and it would look at me, fly off, and to my amazement, return to the same place, as you can see in the above picture.

The rarest of the wagtails, it shows off a magnificent bright yellow sheen.  The male has white flashes on its darkish tail, which twitches up and down (hence the name!).

Since this sighting I’ve seen lots more of these lovely birds.  It made my day for it to be so close and pose for the camera, and it was a first spot for me and Alison.

grey wagtail

Grey wagtail, River Idle

pied wagtail 3

Pied wagtail, Eaton

Last weekend we had our Sunday dinner out at the Chequers Inn at Ranby (which we really enjoyed and would highly recommend!).  To walk off our enormous dinner, we had a walk down the Chesterfield Canal, which we found out was locally known as Cuckoo Dyke.  Opened in 1777, it runs 46 miles from West Stockwith, Notts, to Chesterfield in Derbyshire.  It’s an amazing place to go boating, bird spotting or walking, and we love the time we’ve spent there.  On our way back, we saw this nest under one of the bridges: could it be a pied wagtail’s?

pied wagtail nest

Nest under canal bridge, Chesterfield Canal


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