Gardenroom doorway and herbacous borders, Norfolk

Attract and identify

In winter, grey wagtails sometimes turn up in gardens, even in built-up areas.

Spotting them in your garden

As a bird which breeds along streams and rivers, often in the uplands, they seem to show an attraction to garden ponds and water features, no matter how small.

At a glance, the yellow belly of a grey wagtail can look very similar to that of a yellow wagtail. However, a closer look reveals that a grey wagtail's back is more grey than a yellow wagtail, and its tail is longer. At all ages, they have a vivid yellow undertail, and pinkish-brown legs (yellow wagtails have darker legs).

Yellow wagtails are summer visitors to the UK, arriving in April and leaving in September or October. They are uncommon visitors to gardens, preferring to nest in arable fields or damp grassland grazed by livestock.

Attracting grey wagtails

Unless you have a stream running at the bottom of your garden, your best chance of attracting a grey wagtail is to dig a pond and hope for the best!

Grey wagtail