Tuesday 14 February 2017

Waxwing at Whiteley - 14th February

Having been away in Vienna for the weekend the arrival of a flock of five Waxwing at Whiteley Retail Village on 11th February was rather gripping given they were such a short distance from home. So, on 14th February with a bit of free time in the afternoon I paid a brief visit to see these birds. I found the flock feeding on ornamental Crab Apple outside of Wagamamma and being admired by birders and members of the public at close range. Surely, no birder can ever tire of seeing these stunning birds and certainly the public that I spoke to were inthralled.

Waxwing breed in a band from Scandinavia through Russia, Alaska and Canada favouring open pine forest. They winter south of this range and when berries are scarce in their normal wintering areas they irrupt further afield with large numbers occasionally occurring outside of their usual range. The size and timing of irruptions is influenced by the post-breeding population size and by the abundance of favoured food sources such as Rowan and Whitebeam. The winter of 2016/17 has been a particularly good winter for the species in the UK with many thousands being reported.

Adult male Waxwing, note the white edges to the primary tips and the well developed 
red waxy appendages to the secondaries

First winter Waxwing lacking the white tips to the primaries and having a straight 
yellow line on the outer web of the primaries