Saturday, 21 January 2017

Post 454 - Wonderful Winter Wandering Waxwings

What's that in the tree there?
Hey everyone, today's post 454 and, as we're into the new year and well into Winter we're in between the main bird migrations. However there are still some birds that move about and come to England throughout the Winter if the conditions are right. You might be thinking of birds like Lapwings that move from the continent in Winter if it gets very cold.  But they're not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the birds my Mum and Dad had in their garden before I was born, the birds Dad saw walking to Sainsbury's last week while I was at school,  and what I finally saw today. Waxwings! This bird for some reason is quite special to me, for no other reason that it's a bird

I love the look of and I've been looking for, for a few years now, and I got so excited when I finally put my camera on them.

Our family was heading out to Ripon for a walk we haven't done yet this year so we thought it would be nice. We heard that there were about 24 Waxwings seen in a village nearby us which was on the way so we made a detour and tried to see them but failed. We carried on and I had a nice walk along the river and through the woods and saw Grey Wagtails, Treecreepers, a Bullfinch, Great Tits and Blue Tits etc. It was nice to be out and I'd forgotten the disappointment of not seeing the Waxwings.

They're Waxwings!
We were about a minute away from home when we went past a road and I looked down it to a big tree. I saw a large flock of medium-sized birds sat in it so I asked Dad to turn the car around. I held out no hope that they were actually Waxwings, but I was curious and when we drove back to them, there they were! It was fabulous to see them at last! I'd taken my muddy boots off after the walk so I was just in my socks but I was straight out of the car as soon as Dad had pulled up. The soggy feet were worth it as I watched the flock, I counted 36 in all, moving between the big tree I'd seen them in and a small berry laden tree in someone's garden. Their feeding is quite a frenzy. We watched them for quite a while until my feet were really cold and wet!

It was a pretty grey day but I got some OK photos of them but let's get on with some facts.
  • They are usually found in large flocks flying between berry trees to eat, the flock I saw was 36 Waxwings, and on RBA most sightings are of flocks about this size.
  • There are about 10,000 birds found here in the Winter, quite a big amount when you only see them in small flocks.
A feeding freny on the berry bush.
  • Seeing as this number is holding pretty stable at the moment, and it doesn't show signs of falling, they have a Green conservation status.
  • Probably the most distinguishing feature of a Waxwing is its crest, you can see a relatively large tuft of feathers stick up on the top of the bird, if you see this you recognise the bird immediately.
  • If you want to see them, look on RBA or some way of finding out what's around, and just look around keeping eyes on all trees near berry trees, they usually jump between one tree and food.
  • Speaking of their food, in the summer they eat insects but in the winter they eat berries, mostly Rowan and Hawthorn, but they will also eat Cotoneaster and Rose.
  • They're a bit smaller than a starling, being, on average, 18cm long with a 34cm wingspan. Both Males and Females weigh exactly the same, about 63g.
  • A surge of Waxwings in Winter is not technically called a migration. It is instead an 'irruption'. I'm not sure why but I think it's because they only come for a little time in Winter for food.
A closer look in the berry tree.
  • The Waxwings we see here in the UK are most likely from Scandinavia. If berry crops are poor there they will move to look for food.
  • The first record of Waxwings in the UK was in York, hardly any time ago as well, in 1680, they've done quite well to get their numbers up so quickly.

Anyway, I'm so happy that I saw these beautiful birds, I got quite jealous when I heard my Dad had seen them, but now I've seen them too!

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful shots here Zach, just lovely! Waxwings are one of my favourites. - Tasha