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Reddish Vale Country Park

The grey wagtail is a slender and graceful member of the wagtail family.

 

Its upper parts are blue-grey, with a white stipe above the eye.Its flight feathers and tail are dark grey, edged with white. The male has a black throat and a white moustache-like streak. Its belly is creamy white and its chest and undertail are lemon yellow, which is brighter in the male than in the female. It has a dark bill and legs.

 

The breeding season is April to July and the nest is placed near fast running streams or rivers on an embankment between stones and roots. The male in display, makes short flights up into the air and descends slowly with fluttering flight accompanied by a rapid series of chipping high notes. In Europe the nests are often made in holes in manmade structures. The clutch consists of 3-6 speckled eggs and multiple broods may be raised with declining numbers in the clutch in subsequent broods. The usual clutch size is five in Ireland and the breeding success is about 80% with predation of eggs or chicks being the main cause of breeding failure. The Canary Islands population typically have smaller clutches and the breeding season is not as short and well marked as in populations at higher latitudes. The incubation period is about two weeks with chicks fledging within a fortnight. They live for a maximum of 8 years in the wild.

 

In some parts of the its range the Dipper nests in the same habitats as the Grey Wagtail and there are some records of interspecific feeding of dipper chicks by nesting wagtails.

 

These birds feed on a variety of aquatic invertebrates including adult flies, mayflies, beetles, crustacea and molluscs. They often forage along roadsides in winter, flushing with a sharp chi-cheep call and flying up further along the road but after some distance turning back to return to the original location.

 

In winter, they roost in small groups. Wintering birds have been known to return to the same sites, sometimes a small urban garden, each year.

 

Grey Wagtail

All images, copyright, Stockport Nature.Com

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Wingspan 26cm,

Weight 18g,

Summer population,

38 to 46,000 pairs,

Diet, Small insects from ground or flycatching will also

hunt in water.

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Reddish Vale Country Park

Grey Wagtail