A ‘tail’ to tell

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As the heading suggests, this bird has a very characteristic movement.  I’m sure most of you will have seen one by lakes, paths, rivers and even at your feet or close while doing your weekly shopping or parking your car in town – the fantastic pied wagtail.

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Its squeaky call and long bobbing up and down tail never fail to amaze us.  A slender black and white bird, it walks with jerky movements, rushing after its prey: flies and all kinds of insects.

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Pied wagtails love bare areas such as golf courses, roofs, asphalt roads, where the birds can easily see the insects they need to catch.

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The call is an easily recognisable “zee ze zitt”; when excited or in territorial conflicts, the call is a long, very fast series of indignant high chirping notes.

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Its nest is a grassy cup in stone walls, beneath roof tiles, banks among the ivy, underneath stones, etc.   As you can see above, we got a  picture of one under a railway bridge in a missing brick hole.  5 to 6 eggs are laid, white with greyish black freckly spots, and has 2 or 3 broods between April and August.

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We captured our pictures mostly by the River Idle; others by the Chesterfield Canal, where we got the adults feeding the much duller grey young.

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The one above is a regular visitor to my garden.  He comes morning, noon and tea time and we’ve named him ‘Minstrel’ (get it?).

We never tire of the wagtails all year round: they are a pleasure to see and hear.  It’s black and white: simple.

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