Polly Washdish is about…

Birds are busy nesting just now and doing a bit of garden bird spotting is a good way to take your mind off our current predicament. One bird species common in these here parts is the pied wagtail (Motacilla alba).

A pied wagtail in a Tuttington garden

This small black and white bird dashing about on the ground looking for insects to eat, is easy to identify by its characteristic long flicking tail. It has an undulating flight. I think the song of the pied wagtail is reminiscent of a budgerigar, but others might disagree. Pied wagtails are found in most parts of the UK our local subspecies being called yarelli.

A pair of wagtails

The pied wagtail goes by other names too. In Norfolk it is called Polly (or Penny) Washdish. In other places it is called Lady Wagtail, Dishlick, Dishwipe, Kirk Sparrow, Dishwasher and Willie Wagtail (also the name of an Australian bird). There are Romany folklore connections too. It is said “Behold A Wagtail…And You Shall See The Gypsies”

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