As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Country Corner

It may be common but the Pied Wagtail is always worth watching.

Chasing insects across a lawn, or even in mid air, this acrobatic little bird is always active and eye catching.

Wagtails are often thought of as riverside birds.

In the case of the grey wagtail and many pied wagtails, that is undeniably true.

However, it is quite common to meet pied wagtails almost anywhere.

They are even happy to nest among industrial sites as work goes on around them. I have even known them to nest in the engines of vehicles.

Unusually for such a common bird, the pied wagtail is sought after by bird watchers for a particular reason.

This is because it is not so much a species as a race of the European white wagtail.

White wagtails can be seen here during migration, especially along the coast. Deciding if a bird is a white or pied wagtail is not always a straight forward task. Much of the confusion is caused by the great variety of plumage patterns between males, females and juveniles of both species.

Another seemingly strange aspect of pied wagtail life is the way these lone insect chasers will become very gregarious in winter, often forming night roosts of several thousand birds.

Like starlings, they often choose town centre locations for these communal roosts.

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