This week I am going to be talking to you about a migratory species of bird that is starting to arrive on our shores for the winter period. Yes indeed we are currently experiencing an invasion of the waxwings.
Colourful plump reddish-brown birds with a prominent crest and distinctive yellow tipped wings.
They’re not traditionally seen in Cornwall as they tend to stick to the east coast of the UK but have been visiting in large numbers over the past couple of years much to the delight of birders and gardeners alike. With experts from the RSPB describing them as arriving in their thousands.
So far I have heard reports of sightings in Mylor churchyard, Mylor Bridge, St Just, Saltash, Penzance and Probus. Nothing from Falmouth or Penryn just yet but here’s hoping.
They are typically seen feeding on the succulent red berries of rowan and hawthorn in groups of around 30 – 40 making for truly spectacular subjects to photograph.
Somewhat embarrassingly I spent all weekend trying to catch sight of just one without any luck, I’m hoping my luck will change over the next couple of weeks as I have been seeing some truly stunning photographs on my newsfeed and I am starting to feel a little bit jealous.
But why are there so many of them around outside of their traditional range. Well waxwings arrive in the UK in late spring from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia, in good breeding years the population out stretches the local food supply prompting early migration. The early migrants arrive in the north and east coast of the UK, however once again due to their large numbers it is not long until they have exhaust every berry bush forcing the birds to once again migrate, this time inland.
A single waxwing will eat his own weight in food every day, now a waxwing is about the size of a starling, so weighting roughly 63g, relatively large for a garden class bird but nothing significant but more than enough to strip large areas of their rowan berries in groups of 40 or more, feeding daily.
Sp we are currently experience a large influx of them because they are doing relatively well however their success comes at the price that they quickly exhaust their food supply so they have to find new land to expand into.
How here is a little fun factette for you, if not a little unfair. Waxwings were once described, according to wildlifegarden as “lazy and inert fellows whose only accomplishments are within the art of eating”: Who sometimes find fermented berries resulting in clown-like and un-sober behaviour.
That’s all for now but for more information on this week’s topic and to read about my Creature Feature feel free to visit my blog at sjnwebster.wordpress.com and click Source FM, where you can always leave me a comment letting me know your thoughts.
Have waxwings been visiting your garden or local park, been able to take any good photographs yourself? I’d love to hear from you
In fact I would love to hear from anyone who has an interesting wildlife story they want to share.
Until next week,
Over and out.
Transcript taken from Samanta’s Creature Feature on The Green Show live on The Source 96.1 FM. Airing every week at 3.
Remember if you do not living in the Falmouth, Penryn area of Cornwall The Source FM can always be listened to online!