We are lucky enough to have pied wagtails – usually just one pair – in the garden every year. They raised a family and for much of the summer there were 4 patrolling the roof ridge. Recently, prolific evening fly hatches have provided them with great sport as they hawk for the insects from the roof, fluttering briefly into action and returning to their perch. On some evenings they have been joined by up to 2 dozen other wagtails, and for half an hour at dusk they have looped and swooped round and round, eating on the wing. I wondered if there was a collective noun for wagtails to go with the charms, murmurations, murders and parliaments that other birds are awarded. The only one I found was in a jocular list by a determinedly downbeat birder, who applied the term ‘a permanent narcissism of wagtails’.
PIED WAGTAIL PREENING IN EVENING SUNSHINE
This is a complicated routine involving a great deal of busy activity, from 180° head rotation to elaborate fluffing up to pauses for admiration. I watched this bird, one of a pair, for several minutes. The photos have been cropped but not in any way photoshopped… I’m pleased at how well they turned out, considering that I was filming from the ground 20 feet below, and the bird was moving most of the time. I’ve put some individual pictures up first, then a slideshow of the whole performance…