Identification: The conspicuous yellow on the breast and especially around the tail of a Grey Wagtail causes many novice birdwatchers to think they must have seen a Yellow Wagtail. However, if it's in winter and especially if it's by a stream then it will certainly be a Grey Wagtail. To identify one for certain you should look at its back: grey on a Grey Wagtail, yellowy-brown on a Yellow Wagtail. Grey Wagtails have a much longer, more black and white tail and show a broad pale wing bar as they fly over. The male in summer develops a bold face pattern with white stripes and a jet-black bib.
Habitat: Breeds and winters along streams and rivers. Some winter in towns.
Distribution: Common across most of Britain, mainly on inland waterways. Much less common in eastern England. Favours fast-flowing rocky streams in upland areas. In winter is more widespread, being found around lakes, reservoirs and even in town centres.
Widespread throughout much of Europe but mostly restricted as a breeding bird to fast flowing rivers. Surprisingly absent from most of Scandinavia.
Population: 34 000 breeding pairs in Britain but rare in the eastern lowland counties. 22 000 breeding pairs in Ireland.
600-900,000 breeding pairs throughout much of southern and central Europe, becoming rarer futher east and north.