Wagging tails

The Pied wagtail ( Motacilla alba) is a charming bird always moving and wagging its tail up and down. I have been engrossed in their evening behaviour at Rushden Lakes shopping area.

Here is one of the at least 40 that were busy there today.

He is standing in a man made stream which is a feature of the development along with another 20 birds in constant motion in and out of the water splashing and bathing. It was absolutely freezing tonight.

At the slightest movement they flit off into nearby trees and seem impossible to catch on the phone camera.

They roost in flocks partly to keep warm and use manmade structures as roost sights. Their natural environment is reed beds and there are also plenty of these down at Rushden Lakes and along the River Nene which runs behind the main lake areas.

There is some lovely planting in this shopping area and a lot of it is looking beautiful even in this frosty January weather.

Interesting facts about the Pied wagtail

  • In winter the number in an urban roost can reach 4000.
  • They probably wag their tails as a sign of vigilance.
  • They eat insects.
  • Their preferred nesting site is a hole but have been found nesting in abandoned machinery and log piles.
  • The males can become territorial when food is scarce in cold weather.
  • In the winter birds from colder northern parts of the UK can move south. They are a resident bird but can migrate to North Africa.
  • There was a 11% decline in pied wagtails between 1995 and 2010.

These little energetic birds are great to sit and watch , never a dull moment.


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