When it comes to nesting and bringing on a new clutch, Willie Wagtails seem to go from one extreme to another, in more ways than one.
The weather can take a turn and dash the plans of quite a number of nesting pairs. And around the Werribee River area at the Office, they all seem to start within a day or two of each other and a change of weather takes out most of the nests. That has happened once already this season.
Plucky little birds, just shake off the wet feathers, take a wagtail deep breath and start again.
They also seem to go from nesting high among the gums, to nesting low down in prickly wattle. Some are quite protected from the weather, some a bit more open. None more so than our present Tale.
When I first spotted this pair—and it wasn’t hard—they were working on a nest on an old dry branch, out in the middle of a rough, grassed area near a footbridge. The tree offered no protection from weather or sunshine. No shade, no protection and out in full view of all. Particularly marauding ravens and magpies.
My first reaction was, “No, No, No Willie, this is only going to end in tears, there is just too much against your success out here.”
But. Build they did.
A few days later I was even more concerned to see them sitting on the nest. And in typical Wagtail Way, chatting about whose turn it was to sit. Eventually the sitting bird relented and let the other one take over. Only to fly around the tree, and sit back on the branch to continue the discussion until the incumbent acquiesced and took off to feed.
And the following day, the first of several squalls came through and drenched the area. “That will be the end of that adventure, “I confidently predicted.
But. They had survived and continued to sit, and discuss.
Then came two days of very heavy rain, powerful winds, and freezing cold weather. “No doubt, that will be end of that”, says I. Starting to sound like the Banjo’s Hanrahan
“We’ll all be rooned,” said Hanrahan,
“Before the year is out.”
But. Incredibly they had survived.
Their little outpost in the open not only had withstood, but there were little beaks waiting to be feed.
And then… the rain came again.
This time I am pretty certain they lost one of the young, as from then on I only saw one tiny head begging. So survive they did.
And as each day went on, the little dude became stronger, feathers began to appear, and then one night I saw it stretching its tiny featherette wings over the edge of the nest.
And finally on one warm evening I discovered it sitting very high on the edge of the nest, with one anxious parent on duty, while the other one bought snack after snack. They were expecting it to fledge that night. And it wasn’t for the want of trying. Little wings whirring, leaning right out.
And on the next visit the following evening. Empty Nest.
And I hunted, and lo, there among some of the downed logs in the grassy river edge, two adults very busy, and a tiny winged warrior looking quite the part, albeit with a tiny tail.
All’s well that ends well. a couple more days and it will be quite ready to take its part in the circle of life that is the Wagtail community around the Office.
Good luck little Willie.
4 thoughts on “The Tale of a Wagtail”
A lovely record and how great to have a success story out of such unpromising beginnings.
Lovely as usual David
Could you pls add my daughter Allison onto your mailing list.
Have a great Chrissy
Senior Conservation Ranger
Hobsons Bay City Council
T: 9932 1266 | M: 0419 750 923
NRS users phone 133 677 and quote 03 9932 1000
Wonderful storytelling David😄 Love your amazing pics, thoroughly enjoyed your post. Have a wonderful Christmas and New Year
What a lovely description. I could visualize it all… Beautiful pics too!