A dissimulation of wagtails

I failed to find the collective noun for pied wagtails, so fell back on ‘dissimulation’ which is a generic term for a flock of small birds (deriving from their habit of diverting behaviour to distract predators).  

I wanted to know because I came across a flock of wagtails in the berry-laden trees of Leigh Delamere services on the M4.  It was dark, at about 5.40 pm and, as I walked through the car park, I heard a twittering in the small trees lining the roadways.  They were faintly lit by artificial lighting.



Birds flew from one tree to another and then back again, perching in the branches.  I had not seen such activity before.  I hope the artificial lighting didn’t upset them too much.


I had a good look to see if there was a waxwing among them, but with no success.

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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4 Responses to A dissimulation of wagtails

  1. chris says:

    Great pic Kate

    if you ever want to treat yourself ‘invest’ in recent book by engraver Colin See-Payton

    Of A Feather – An Illustrated Lexicon Of Avian Collective Nouns



  2. chris says:

    Kate –

    flight or flock by prescription but dissimulation sounds so much better

    Whilst Watching a Dissimulation of Birds”

    I saw a leash of hawks unleashed
    that brooded with the hens.
    A raft of ducks came paddling by
    escaping to their dens.

    A wedge of swans were herded on,
    the squadron taking charge,
    when a raffle of turkeys
    mustered round a mob that was at large.

    The guillemots at their bazaar
    braced for a covey of grouse.
    When out of the sky a descent of woodpeckers
    chased a little brown mouse.

    A company of widgeon
    joined with a teal knob,
    as a pack of gulls colonised
    a half-eaten corn cob.

    The flamboyance of the flamingos
    scoffed at by a flock of bustards,
    troubled the hummingbirds by calling the jays
    a band of hairy bustards.

    The concentrating kingfishers
    joined a congregation of plovers,
    as the eagles began a convocation
    in a field of clover.

    I had now become tired
    of watching this bird volery,
    so the brooding hawks put on a kettle
    and I had a cup of tea.

    The unkindness of the ravens
    was a conspiracy galore.
    It caught the stare of the owls
    on their parliamentary floor.

    The ostentatious peacocks,
    so prideful of their beauty,
    tailed a bouquet of pheasants
    to the penguins at their rookery.

    The exaltation of the larks
    were heard in high-exalting
    by the mallards who were rather flushed
    from playing in the puddling.

    A gaggle of geese were flocked together
    charmed by the chattering goldfinches,
    when a covert of coots covered a siege
    of Bitterns eating their lunches.

    And in the parish of the rooks
    clamoured the ruffs who lived on a hill.
    They walked the wispy, lispy snipes
    hoping to make a kill.

    The sparrows set up a quarrel
    and the starlings murmured too,
    as the thrushes began mutating
    after a visit to the partridge bew.

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