Taking my son his morning coffee, I glanced out of his bedroom window and saw that we had a visitor. The distinctive long and bobbing gait made it easy to identify as a wagtail, but where its pied cousin is a common sight, the little grey wagtail is a rarity these days.
This one was hopping around the edge of the pond, on one of the small ledges left for the birds that like to take a bath in the waterfall. With its pale yellow and soft markings, it looked like a female and she appeared to be fishing… not for the fish, but for their food.
Having secured one of the floating fish sticks… rather than helping herself to the selection of more appropriate food on the bird feeder… she lingered for a good while, eating it at a leisurely pace. Long enough for me to creep out to my handbag and grab the camera.
Shooting through glass on a dull, wintry morning, is not ideal, but I was able to get a few half-decent pictures so that my son, whose eyes no longer focus as they should, could get a good look at his beautiful little visitor.
It is not the first time we have seen her and I hope she will nest in the area and bring her babies into the garden in spring. Grey wagtails are not only pretty but rare, having been placed on the red list for endangered birds five years ago. Sadly, one in four… a quarter of all UK birds… are now on the red list, including puffins, shy little spotted woodpeckers… and grey wagtails. And many of them are facing extinction worldwide.
Many of these birds are threatened by the loss of their natural habitat. We can help, by limiting our use of chemicals in our fields and gardens, providing food and water, planting with a thought for wildlife as well as formal and traditional beauty. Even a pot or a window box can attract bees, birds and butterflies. But maybe, most of all, we need to be aware of what we stand to lose for want of a little care.