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Welcome back the right wagtail

[Wednesday 9 December 2009]
yellow wagtail
Yellow Wagtail: at risk

Even experienced bird watchers can sometimes mistake the identities of the three different species of wagtails that might visit their gardens – and this is important for Yorkshire Dales bird-lovers because one of the trio is on the “red list” of endangered breeds.

This is the yellow wagtail, a summer visitor, which was once a regular sight in Dales hay meadows but which has gone into steep decline since the hay crops were replaced by large-scale silage production.

It is now so rare that the Yorkshire Dales National Park has set up a research programme and is keen to hear reports of sightings. But who can be sure that they have seen the right breed when another of the trio, the adult male grey wagtail, also sports a yellow chest and belly in the summer months?

To help amateur ornithologists, walkers and gardeners, the British Trust for Ornithology has produced a free guide pointing out the differences between the pied wagtail, the grey wagtail and the yellow wagtail, three of our most delightful birds whose aerobatic flight and bouncy, cocky walk are a joy to watch.

The guide, which would make an ideal, free stocking filler for anyone interested in wildlife, is available from the BTO on 01842–750050, email gbw@bto.org or by letter to:

The Nunnery
IP24 2PU

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