Saturday, 12 December 2015

Bird of the week - Waxwing

Waxwings must be our most exotic and beautiful winter visitors.  To look at them you'd think they came from the tropics rather than Scandinavia and northern Russia.  These birds were a group of four in the sunshine in Jarrow this week. (My friend and namesake Jack tells me Jarrow is pronounced Jarra.)  Unfortunately they were feeding on berries in deep shade making photography very difficult.

The waxwing is named after the small red dots on its wings which resemble spots of sealing wax (it was obviously named a long time ago).  Its scientific name Bombycilla garrulus means chattering silktail.

The number of visiting waxwings varies enormously from year to year.  So far this year there have been only a few but there have several sightings locally, usually of one or two or a handful of birds.  This is the current BirdTrack reporting rate graph for the UK.

This year's berry crop is also small so when the birds have eaten them all they'll move off south and west.  If, like me, you are not on Twitter, you can check the latest waxwing sightings on Twitter here.  And you can listen to the BBC Radio 4 Tweet of the Day on waxwings here.

1 comment:

  1. Still have not managed to catch up with one this winter