It's winter. The town shops are bustling with people preparing for the excesses of the coming festive season, but as the shops are closing and the crowds head home, look up, and you may see wagtails gathering on the rooftops in noisy gangs as dusk approaches. Their ‘chizzik’ calls barely noticeable above the urban hustle and bustle, the birds head for their roost trees as their numbers grow. Ornamental trees planted around shopping centres and supermarket car parks seem to be favourites, often near street lights, with the biggest roosts often numbering in the hundreds. There they sleep the night away amongst the twinkling Christmas lights.
After spending most of the year out in the countryside in ones and twos, pied wagtails take to roosting communally during the winter, often in our town centres.
Alderney - Longis Nature Reserve
Suffolk - there is a beautiful pied wagtail tree in the centre of Bury St Edmunds, just next to The Nutshell (Britain’s smallest pub).
How to do it
Keep your ears open for the unmistakable buzzy ‘chizzik’ call of the pied wagtails and your eyes peeled for their bounding long-tailed flight. Often birds will gather on the ground in car parks before moving up to the roofs, all the while unnoticed by the busy people below.
If you can't get there
Most town centres will have their own wagtail roost: just try looking upwards on your way home.
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