Tuesday 5 April 2016

Yellerwags 5th April 2016

At last a spell of Spring weather has come to Oxfordshire and with it have also come the first spring migrants from far afield, returning to breed or pass through on their way to more distant lands.

The bare brown hedgerows have, with these last few days of sunshine, donned a light dusting of green as the young leaves break from the buds and the colour yellow in all its variety of shades casts patches of bright colour on the dark earth in the varied forms of  dandelions, coltsfoot,  celandines, primroses and daffodils. Yellow, the colour of Spring.

The vibrancy and optimism of Spring when everything is renewed and vital fills me with a longing to be out and about in the countryside. For too long I have sat indoors enduring dark nights and dull cloud grey days but not anymore, as the sunshine today beckoned me towards its bright energy and I could resist no longer.

Forgetting about work I took myself to Farmoor for an afternoon with one thing in mind. Yellow Wagtails. At about this time each year the wide grassy bank that separates the reservoir from Thames Water's offices and works is the place to look for Yellow Wagtails. The first to arrive are always the males and it is these that I desire most, their plumage almost glowing with a yellow colouration that is so vivid and strong. Beautiful and fresh in their spring finery they sit in the short grass and at first glance appear almost as if they are yellow dandelions amongst the bright green grass shoots and white daisies. When they move their beauty is suddenly thrust upon you as they run, chase and catch insects in that irrepressible, cheerful way of wagtails. When they finally seize something a satisfied sequence of tail wagging ensues. Almost like a dog, their tail expresses various emotions. Fast wagging when they are excited and slower when uncertain or anxious but always the tail is virtually constantly in motion.


Their plumage seems to ensnare the very brightness of the day and radiates a joyous brilliance and a celebration of the optimism that comes at this time of year. These Spring days are precious and few when the wagtails are here and soon they will be gone but for now their bright yellow presence cheers everything around.

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