A few weeks back we covered the Pied Wagtail, so it seems appropriate to cover another common wagtail, the Grey. Despite the name suggesting a drab bird, the Grey Wagtail is anything but, with the grey of the head and back set against a bright yellow throat and belly. One of our most striking birds. This yellow belly means they are easily mistaken for the yellow wagtail, but this is far less common and has yellows and greens through it’s head and back too. In fact the Yellow Wagtail is regarded as a conservation concern in the UK.
While Grey wagtails are predominantly a bird of upland watercourses, they are increasingly being seen in urban settings, even gardens, especially in winter. I have seen them flitting along the Croal in Manchester city centre. If there is flowing water and a source of insect life, they can make it work.
The birds breed in the UK, often in similar areas to Dippers, and you will often see one species anywhere you see the other.
For a bird that is, in part, bright yellow they can be hard to spot. Your best chance is as they zip past along a fast-flowing river or stream, landing with that distinctive wagging of the tail and slight bobbing of the body.