There has been a bit of a discussion about the Hastings town centre roost of pied wagtails on the wildhastings egroup. As my route home from the office at Aquila House takes me past the locations of our pied wagtail, turnstone and starling nocturnal roosts I have acquired quite a good understanding of the formation of these roosts over the years.

It gives quite a different perspective of the towns buildings and beach studying these birds, which have come from different areas around the globe, that have chosen Hastings to spend the winter.

The pied wagtails have probably come from breeding areas around Britain, maybe even as far north as Scotland. The pier roosting starlings probably breed on the near continent, maybe even Scandinavia, whereas the turnstones that roost on the beach near the pier or opposite Marine Court breed as far afield as Greenland.

My post to the wildhastings egroup:

The town centre pied wagtail roost forms first on the beach (opp. Queens Hotel) in the early evening. Sometimes this pre-roost flock forms opposite Warrior Square and then moves to the town centre, you may sometimes notice a small passage of pied wagtails at dusk moving along the seafront according to where the pre-roost gathering develops. The pre-roost flock make a lot of noise and the birds seem to jump up and down in a sort of brief display flight, probably as an announcement to other pied wagtails of the location of the roost flock.

The flock (usually 100-200 birds) then moves onto the roof of the Queens hotel and once it gets dark they move and settle into the town centre trees either along Cambridge Road or Queens Road. You can see which trees they favour by the pied wag ‘guano’ beneath the trees!

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