Friday, 2 April 2010

Next Term's Wildlife 3: Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail
Another species we should catch up with next term is the Yellow Wagtail. Again this species has declined markedly in the last 30 years. One of the reasons is the relative lack of insects in the wider countryside because of excessive spraying of pesticides, but also the draining of suitable habitat. However, there is a great deal of standing water around at the moment, so if this doesn't dry up quickly the Yellow Wagtail may have a better breeding season in 2010. Although, the Yellow Wagtail has declined by up to 80% in some areas, it is still relatively numerous in a few remote areas of Holderness, and it is these venues we are going to be searching for it. Some of the classes have had brief encounters with this species before, but I'm hoping every session will connect with it this year, as we dedicate specific time to concentrate on gaining good views. Some beginners are amazed by the vivid colour of the Grey Wagtail, and ask why this isn't known as a Yellow Wagtail, but they never ask this question again, once they have obtained a decent view of a Yellow Wagtail! In some areas of the country these stunning birds are known as 'milkmaids' or 'dairymaids' from their habit of feeding near the hooves of grazing cattle. The cattle disturb insects from the long grasses, which the Yellow Wagtails quickly snap up. Although the male Yellow Wagtail has an incredibly brilliant plumage, he doesn't have a song to match. We will hear him make a few unimpressive "swee-swee" sounds. The first Yellow Wagtails of 2010 have already been spotted, so if you are lucky you may catch up with one before the sessions start!

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