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  • Writer's pictureWildlife Friendly Otley


Updated: Jan 23, 2021

My battered old copy of the Observer’s Book of British Birds notes that this is also known as the Water Wagtail or Dish-washer (no, me neither), but it is actually one of many sub-species of the White Wagtail. In many ways these slender birds have developed a happy co-existence with us: they find the bare landscapes of Otley’s car parks and school playgrounds excellent places to spot and pursue insects, and holes in stone walls and other man-made structures appeal to them as nest sites. Bill Bailey describes their running as “comically fast” (and he should know), and many theories have been advanced as to why they wag their tails, for example to flush out prey, or as a sign of vigilance to predators. At this time of year they sometimes gather in flocks to roost – I once saw a huge group making an early-evening din in the trees above the Christmas market in the centre of York. (Bill Bailey’s book)

Laura Alice (

By Neil Griffin

Photos by Pixabay


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