Baby pied wag­tail is spot­ted

Accrington Observer - - WILDLIFE -

I HAVE raved about the gangs of wag­tails that hang out close to warm lights on su­per­stores in win­ter af­ter spend­ing years only see­ing sin­gle birds around the re­gion.

The col­lec­tive name for a group of wag­tails is a vol­ery, and the vol­ery we see out­side Next in Wi­gan num­bers about 5-600 in the cold months.

Yet I can never re­mem­ber see­ing a fledg­ling pied wag­tail... un­til last week. I was vis­it­ing a pop­u­lar na­ture re­serve in Lan­cashire when I spot­ted the young­ster.

It didn’t re­ally look like a pied wag­tail, which are black-and-white, but the fledg­ling was a browny-grey, with only a black bib giv­ing away its pied wag­tail­ness.

And the mo­ment I re­alise that it was a baby pied wag­tail was when I saw mum fly­ing around try­ing to en­cour­age her child to fly around a bit more. All the ac­tion was oc­cur­ring on a tree branch stick­ing out of a lake. The fledg­ling could fly but there was not a lot of strength in those wings yet. Ev­ery time it set off, dip­ping and swerv­ing above the wa­ter, I was wor­ried about it tak­ing its life in its own hands.

And ev­ery time it set off, just above the wa­ter, it man­aged to lift its lit­tle body up and onto a perch.

I was sigh­ing with re­lief, but what must mum have been think­ing dur­ing this life-or-death drama? It was won­der­ful to watch and is prob­a­bly hap­pen­ing all over the coun­try at this mo­ment.

And how sad do you feel when you see a tiny bird dead on the pave­ment, af­ter a death leap in its first fly­ing les­son? It’s up­set­ting me just think­ing about it.

Even­tu­ally our beau­ti­ful fledg­ling will gain those black-and-white feath­ers and wag its tail around the town and coun­try­side, for our plea­sure. Pied wag­tails are pretty much ev­ery­where in towns, cities, parks, gar­dens, re­tail parks and, of course, out in the coun­try.

They gen­er­ally live up to about two years but there have been records of pied wag­tails reach­ing 11 years old.

I spot­ted one flut­ter­ing be­tween trees about an hour ago, al­most hov­er­ing as it sought a new place to stop and search for in­sects. Our fledg­ling will be learn­ing th­ese skills as he or she gets older and wiser.

We have a huge num­ber of species of birds in the re­gion and to get as many as pos­si­ble into your gar­den, try to keep them fed at this time of year.

Re­mem­ber, don’t use bread, get some seed or fruit or meal­worms to keep them happy and they also ap­pre­ci­ate wa­ter in warmer weather.

» ● The Wildlife Trust for Lan­cashire, Manch­ester and North Mersey­side is ded­i­cated to the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the wildlife in Lan­cashire, seven bor­oughs of Greater Manch­ester and four of Mersey­side, all ly­ing north of the River Mersey. It man­ages around 40 na­ture re­serves and 20 Lo­cal Na­ture Re­serves cov­er­ing acres of wood­land, wet­land, up­land and meadow. The Trust has 29,000 mem­bers, and over 1,200 vol­un­teers. To be­come a mem­ber of the Trust go to the web­site at www.lanc­swt.org.uk or call 01772 324129. For in­for­ma­tion about Cheshire Wildlife Trust call 01948 820728 or go to cheshirewil­dlifetrust.org.uk.

A fledg­ling pied wag­tail learn­ing to fly

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