Baby pied wagtail is spotted
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