I had a lovely little visitor in the garden at Haremoon Cottage garden this overcast and drizzly Monday morning. Meet Willie Wagtail a Pied Wagtail (glasόg shráide)
Pied wagtails are terrific little characters, jaunting, swooping and swerving energetically and as he is so aptly called constantly wagging his tail up and down.
In Ireland in the past the pied wagtail was known as the Devils bird. It was believed that the devil had marked this bird by putting three drops on blood on its tail which stung so that it could not stop bobbing.
However, the pied wagtail was one of my Grandfathers favourite birds which he called his own little Suibháinín an bhόthair – little Joan of the street.
Little trotty wagtail he went in the rain,
And tittering, tottering sideways he neer got straight again,
He stooped to get a worm, and looked up to get a fly,
And then he flew away ere his feathers they were dry.
Little trotty wagtail, he waddled in the mud,
And left his little footmarks, trample where he would.
He waddled in the water-pudge, and waggle went his tail,
And chirrupt up his wings to dry upon the garden rail.
Little trotty wagtail, you nimble all about,
And in the dimpling water-pudge you waddle in and out;
Your home is nigh at hand, and in the warm pig-stye,
So, little Master Wagtail, I’ll bid you a good-bye.
John Clare (1793 –1864)