20/06/2015
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Wagtails nest in tractor engine

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A Pied Wagtail chick in its nest can just about be seen through the engine parts of the tractor. Photo: Adam Finch (WWT).
A Pied Wagtail chick in its nest can just about be seen through the engine parts of the tractor. Photo: Adam Finch (WWT).
A tractor engine might not be your first choice when thinking of a place to raise a family, but a pair of Pied Wagtails has built a nest in one at WWT Welney Wetland Centre. 

Staff at the centre were surprised to find a pair of Pied Wagtails and their four chicks tucked into the engine of the reserve tractor. Using the tractor to cut the reserve has had to be put on hold, but the chicks are almost ready to leave the nest now and will soon be learning how to fend for themselves from their parents. 

Louise Clewley, Reserve Warden, said: "I first noticed the adults had bills filled with insects so I knew they must have a nest nearby. I checked all the obvious places like the open-fronted nest box, in amongst the nettles and crawled around the trailer.  But I found that they had actually chosen the engine of the tractor. 

Prime Pied Wagtail real estate at Welney WWT. Photo: Adam Finch (WWT).


"These small black-and-white birds have a habit of wagging their tail even when standing still.  Visitors can normally get quite close to the pairs that nest along the bridge, unlike these guys who wanted to stand out from the crowd." 

Visitors can see birds feeding their young on the whole reserve, with House Martins above the hide windows, Great Tits using traditional nest boxes and Swallows inside the actual hides.

Welney WWT has launched a new mission to film a year in the life of the Great Ouse Wetland, and will be almost certainly be including footage of the wagtails. Cameras will venture beyond the region's impressive skyline, beneath the water's colourful depths and into a landscape rich with biodiversity. This project is part of the Ouse Washes Landscape Partnership scheme and supported with a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
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