Whistling a tune to the yellow wagtails

Yellow wagtail by Dave Steel

It could have been due to the type of summer’s day that this morning had offered me, as I arrived on Barton Moss, that induced this feeling of nostalgia. It being grey cool and suggestive of more rain to come - just like school holidays in the summer.

Whatever it was, memories of tuneless whistling techniques learnt whilst hanging around for friends, who were reluctant to get out on such dull-looking days, came to the top of my thoughts as I peered across a vast acreage of wheat.

This time, it wasn’t my friends of old I was looking out for but those flashes of sunlight that are built into the wings of yellow wagtail 

These birds arrive each summer and in spite of their stand-out colour, reminiscent of gold glinting in the sun, always prove to somehow blend into crops in which they nest - obviously important when avoiding predators.

A light bulb then switched on in the archives of my mind as I heard their discordant contact call from deep within the crop - why not just try to whistle their contact call? You know you can do it said my tuneless memories of yore.

I was then happily bowled over by four male yellow wagtail who rose to the top of the wheat crop and searched for this obviously un-feathered rival. They called back, they called my bluff. They moved on with their busy lives feeding their young.

I fed my notebook with these records and happily moved on in adult phase, where that skill of tuneless whistling was best returned to and left upon the antiquities shelf of my life.