Last Tuesday the regular volunteering task with the Box Moor Trust was to clear the river Bulbourne. As we started our afternoon stint after a picnic lunch in the meadow, a little bird caught my eye. It was trying to distract me by leading me away from its nest. I decided to bring my camera on Sunday to find out more about it.
One of the other volunteers identified the bird as a grey wagtail. It had made its nest in an overflow pipe in the canal bridge by the pub. I hope that it doesn’t get inundated by a passing storm! Both parents were busily catching insects and bringing them to their nest. We couldn’t see how many chicks there were, but they were certainly hungry!
There seemed to be no shortage of prey for the birds in the culvert and surrounding common land, though they were working very hard to keep up with their chicks’ appetite. Here’s one flying under the bridge to get some more. It was great to see them catch the prey on the wing.
They had quite a range of items from damsel flies to hover flies so the chicks had a nicely varied and nutricious diet.
Grey wagtails are quite commonly found in rivers and streams. Male and female look similar except for the male’s black bib. Their cousins the pied wagtails are everywhere nesting on buildings in city centres, and the yellow wagtail is a smaller and yellower bird. They all share the mannerism that gives them their name. They were aware that we were sitting on the bench in their territory but didn’t seem unduly worried by our presence, although they did shout at us when their beaks weren’t full of unfortunate insects.