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Thursday, 14 December 2017

Wagtails roosting

This evening, just as dusk was drawing in, I walked up the high street in Malmesbury, our local town. My eyes and ears were drawn to a group of small birds chattering and flitting about, over roof tops and in and out of a series of Christmas trees mounted on the outside of a car showroom wall.

Looking more closely and taking this photo I identified them as pied wagtails (motacilla alba) - around 30 or 40 of them flocking to roost for the night in the shelter of the trees. This communal roosting in towns and cities is quite common behaviour for these little birds, though I've never seen it in Malmesbury before. 

Photo from here

We see these slender, active little birds quite often in our garden, pecking about on the lawn looking for insects. They have been especially common just recently in the cold weather and are to be found throughout the British Isles, though those in much of Scotland and the northern isles come south in winter. 


  1. Really interesting! I guess it is the warmth of the buildings and lights and no predators. Have a good Christmas!

    1. I'm sure you have it absolutely right. Talking to a neighbour today, I discovered that the wagtails have been around for many years. When the Christmas trees come down, they roost on local buildings and in trees.


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