Meet The Wagtails Of Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary

“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.”

Extract from the poem “Little Trotty Wagtail”, by John Clare

London’s Trafalgar Square is famous for its daytime congregation of Pigeons. Dublin city’s Parnell Square, according to Dublin City Council, is famous for its congregation of daytime, marauding, chip snatching seagulls. Here in rural Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary; practically unnoticed by the frequenters of our pubs, clubs, and other nightly entertainment venues, we remain secretly renowned for our congregation of nightly, urban roosting Pied Wagtails.

Hundreds of roosting Pied Wagtails congregate nightly all year round, unnoticed in Liberty Square, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

To the night reveller, they go mostly unnoticed, perched on the very summit of three mature trees on the ‘money side’ of Liberty Square, close to the entrance into Westgate and Friar Street. Best not to stand too long directly under these trees at night; lest your unprotected bag of chips, or expensive hair-do, should inevitable fall foul to occasional falling defecation.

Bearing various allocated rural names; like ‘Penny wagtail’, ‘Willy Wagtail’ and ‘Water Wagtail’, in truth no one actually knows why Wagtails wag their tails, however, especially during the cold winter months, and indeed right through the year here in Thurles, large numbers of these inoffensive, 18cm long birds, join together and roost communally in our town.

In Ireland pairs of pied wagtails will nest favouring holes in walls, gaps under roof tiles and similar spaces, and particularly enjoy the use of farmyard areas, where they will nest two or three times during the summer season.

Haters of cold weather and not great dawn singers, these birds are exclusively insectivorous and choose towns possibly because same are always a couple of degrees warmer. Undeterred by noisy traffic, bright moving lights and loud night revellers; these birds enjoy the security of roosting in flocks, after all several hundred pairs of eyes are better than two in the case of any possible danger.

Not a protected species here in Ireland; one wonders what will become of this Thurles Wagtail colony, should work eventually begin on the constantly delayed revitalisation of Liberty Square. Will Tipperary Co. Council continue in the practice of eradicating mature trees, as seen previously in Fethard village and other Tipperary areas, thus leaving them homeless?

We trust that Tipperary Co. Council has learnt by now that the life of another creature is in no way less precious than their own.


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