Sunday, 15 March 2015

Day 134 - Gorgeous Grey Wagtails

Hi all today's Day 134 and yesterday I was at Ripon walking along the river Skell and I saw something flitting about on the rocks by the side of it. I knew it was some type of Wagtail and it looked like a Yellow Wagtail but, after further inspection, it turned out to be a Grey Wagtail. I had never seen one of these birds before so it was quite exciting to see.

Of course I came back and did my research and here are the facts I found :

Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
  • They are found throughout most of Britain though not in the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland.
  • In the summer they prefer the uplands and hills of England, in the winter they move to lowland streams and sometimes urban areas too.
  • They can make nests in very unusual places. For example, on the BBC website there is as video that shows Wagtails setting up home inside a boat-gate.
  • Speaking of habitats, they will live in any habitat apart from Estuaries where they are not found at all. They are also very uncommon on Shores but they can still be found there...
  • ...They are most common along rivers which is where I found mine but they are also common in Moorland.
  • Their diet is made up of ants, midges and other insects they find by rivers. In shallow water they will also take snails and tadpoles.
  • They are an Amber List species as they have had recent declines all the way down to just 38,000 breeding pairs. They also find it hard to survive in the Winter but as this one was quite mild I wonder if they'll have done a little better? Cold Springs and wet Summers are thought to have not been helpful to their breeding.
Looking for bugs on the riverside
  • They will normally live for 2 years but the oldest Grey Wagtail was 7 years and 1 day. Well done to it for getting to 7 years!
  • It has the local name of Barley Bird which is weird for two reasons. One, they only eat insects, and two because they're not very common in farmland.
  • The collective noun for Wagtails is a volery - that's one I don't quite understand.....

Well I hope these guys have a better time in the future as they are really lovely to see and to watch flitting up and down the riverside. If you want to know more about them here's are a few links to more information:

Hope you enjoyed,



  1. Lovely! I've not seen a Grey Wagtail before so I'll have to keep me eyes peeled for these cute little birds. Great post as always Zach! - Tasha

    1. Thanks Tasha, glad you enjoyed it. Hope you get to spot one soon :-)