A flying visit

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.


About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
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37 Responses to A flying visit

  1. ellenbest24 says:

    My goodness your son wakes early for coffee! I have been about since 5.10 and love my wordpress reader as it delivers friends, like the baker pulls a batch from his oven. Warm and fresh. I love the birds, they eat well in our garden. It is not light enough to see until seven, but I have never seen that Wagtail at my bird cafe. Pied ones, plenty bobb along under the branches pecking. Regularly we have Robins, many different tits, finches, two kinds of woodpecker and one tree creeper that scurries up the Ash. I get photos of crumbs a tail or a tip of a wing, but photo’s are not my super power. You on the other-hand have skills with a lense and rare birds that make me somewhat envious. It is stunning. Thanks so much for sharing. How your day gets better I fail to see … you may have peked early. By for now.


  2. anita dawes says:

    We are enjoying watching the birds in our garden, as they take advantage of the feeders Jaye puts out. I would need a better camera to capture them as our garden is long, and they are just too far away to capture…


  3. Darlene says:

    What a sweet little bird. How special you were able to capture it.


  4. kittysverses says:

    Lovely pictures, Sue. πŸ™‚


  5. Mary Smith says:

    How wonderful and great you were able to take the photos. Fingers crossed it decides to take up residence.


  6. quiall says:

    Wonderful shots!


  7. V.M.Sang says:

    It’s so sad that so many of our lovely birds are on the endangered list. When we moved into our current house, 18 years ago, there were sparrows and starlings everywhere, swifts flying over the town centre and swallows nesting under the eaves of the house. Now the swallows and swifts have disappeared and there are very few sparrows and starlings. People don’t seem to care, just as long as they can get the things they want, like cheap food. Which is not good for farmers, either. Many are struggling to make ends meet, or are even making a loss, due to the supermarkets paying low prices, even less than the cost of production.
    We are animals, too, and as such are part of nature. We cannot live aside from the natural world. If that goes, so do we. People talk about ‘the food chain’, meaning the ‘human food chain’, of course, but seem to forget that it’s not that simple. We are interconnected in a vast Food Web.
    But I love your pictures of the little wagtail. I hope she finds a mate and breeds.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      So do I,Viv. It would be lovely to watch the fledglings.
      But yes, I agree… and cannot understand why we seem to think ourselves a specialcase where Nature is concerned. We may be better equipped than many species to manipulate the world, but we are every bit as dependant as any other species upon the perfectly balanced design of the natural world… and are just as vulnerable, though we would like to think otherwise.


  8. How lovely! We used to get yellowhammers and greenfinches in the cottage, but then we had open fields back and front. We have wagtails here in the park, and I’ve been surprised at the number of fieldfares that visit our garden. No takers in either of the bird boxes we put up, but we remain hopeful now that the garden has some greenery.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      We usually get bluetits in the nest box, and a surprising variety of birds for Nick’s town garden. Out in the fields here, the birds are seldom absent… which Ani likes to believe she can change.At least hen I’m watching. Oddly, she will watch the birds for hourswithout a sound until she sees me looking too.


      • Bless her. We had 15 fledglings from our tit box in the bungalow, I counted them! It was wonderful.


        • Sue Vincent says:

          They are so tiny too…


          • I know. Barney our previous dog came and fetched us the following year when one couldn’t make it to safety. We called it Kamakazee Pete and Hubby wrapped it in a clean tea towel and out it back in the nest hoping the parents wouldn’t desert it. They didn’t and there was a lot of twittering and ‘telling off’ from both adults until it tried again and made it to the shed roof. I could watch the birds for hours.


  9. besonian says:

    Can’t remember the last time I saw a Grey Wagtail in the UK. The last one I saw – a pair of them in fact – was about five years ago in Central France. They had a nest under the arch of a beautiful bridge across the river that flows through the little town. Lucky you!


  10. willowdot21 says:

    Beautiful photos Sue, I love our garden birds, squirrels, foxes and the occasional deer. I feel sorry for the deer all their pathways are disapearing as houses are built everywhere. Life would be so less colourful were all our beautiful feathered and furred friends disappeared πŸ’œπŸ’œ


  11. Eliza Waters says:

    Good eye, Sue. I hope humans wake up to these mounting losses of wildlife. John Donne comes to mind: “…send not to know For whom the bell tolls, It tolls for thee.”


  12. dgkaye says:

    Fab shots Sue. ❀


  13. Bela Johnson says:

    Nicely summarized. πŸ’œ


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