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Yellow or grey? Don’t forget the bins next time

August 29, 2011
Yellow Wagtail

Image via Wikipedia

I saw a small group of very graceful birds flitting around the cattle on Friday. There were five in all and they seemed to be picking insects out of the grass and from the air; no doubt enjoying the cows’ usual and no doubt tasty companions. I immediately identified them as yellow wagtails but then remembered that both grey and yellow wagtails are, unhelpfully yellow. My inability to recall which bird is the resident that spends summer months hanging around upland Britain rather than our lowland meadows, didn’t help.

Recourse to the RSPB’s web site was to some extent useful, but only to confirm that the two species look pretty similar and that it’s the yellow wag (as we birders like to call the little fellow) that is the migrant. What clinched the yellow ID was the closing sentence of the RSPB’s description… “Suitable habitat in central and eastern England, eastern Wales and southern Scotland. A good place to look is lowland grassland where cattle are being grazed.”  Also it is the grey that is a resident that summers in the uplands.

So they were yellow wags then. Probably need to remember binoculars next time.

Actually I haven’t seen them since so perhaps they were greys after all?

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