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Winter Wagtail


Winter Wagtail - Cameos of Birdlife #1

It’s late afternoon on a cold grey winters day just after Christmas. The high mountains lost in snow-heavy skies; distant woods a purple haze. The New Year beckons.

Coming off the flyover onto the slip road to my local superstore I hear them first - their ‘ chiss- ick ‘ calls giving the game away. A few hundred gathered in noisy and excitable groups on the store roof. One or two already flying down to roost among the Christmas lights ...

lights twinkle 
in cherry trees
wagtails roost

This year people seem to be more aware of these urban roosts with recent reports from as far afield as York, Bridgend and Dublin. Maybe you have some near you ...


The header image is from an original painting - Pied Wagtails settling in to roost at The Triangle Teignmouth Devon by John Walters - and is used here with permission.

John draws and paints wildlife directly from life in the field as he feels this is the only way he can capture the life and vitality of his subjects. He is a keen photographer and specialises in taking photographs of insects. He is after all best known as an entomologist.

He has written and illustrated several publications, including: The Wildlife of Dartmoor, The Minibeast Guide and The Rockpool Guide

Here is a link to his website John Walters

The recording in this post is used here under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. This and many more can be found at - Xeno-Canto


The bird's “Chis-wick!” call, often made in flight, has earned the Pied Wagtail another name, courtesy of Bill Oddie: “the Chiswick flyover”.

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December 30, 2020 1:38 pm

A ‘cracking’ little verse, Clive! And thanks for the introduction to John Walters!
Have a happy healthy and wonder-filled new year!

December 30, 2020 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this artist! His wagtails are so lively!

Andrea Stephenson
December 30, 2020 8:29 pm

I’ve not found a roost, but we do get a few pied wagtails in the local park and in the town centre, and the occasional grey wagtail in the dene.

December 30, 2020 9:40 pm

[…] This twinkling hokku was composed by Clive Bennett, and can be found here. […]

December 31, 2020 10:44 am

Wonderful, I always used to see wagtails in our school car park, slightly quieter than the playground I guess. This was in West London and from a bird point of view not far from the Chiswick fly over. Greetings to you for 2021 and thanks for all your wonderful haiku and illuminating posts.

Helen White
December 31, 2020 11:43 am

How timely! I just shared on FB some pictures of wagtails with their friends the goldfinches that are all over our common at the moment, boldly walking between horses legs to get at whatever they are feeding on. Love them, they are so full of animation and personality.