"Wonderful Waxwings"

14th January 2011
They certainly are stunning birds and with a Waxwing invasion this year there are plenty of groups of them around to see...

In 2008 about 10 Waxwings turned up in Woburn Bedfordshire, this year numbers peaked at over 200....
Waxwings come from North East Scandinavia and Russia and arrive here from mid November. They spend a few months here feeding on berry bushes and trees with their favourites being Rowan (sorbus) berries which come in a few varieties, Pink Pagoda, Mountain Ash, Josephs Rock and more. They feed on these berries and then move on to other sources like Cotoneaster another berry producing large shrub etc....

Waxwings are named after their wings that have bright red spots like sealing wax on the tips of the secondary feathers.

The birds that turned up in Woburn were there for over 40 days as there are plenty of big Rowan trees full of white berries in the front gardens on one of the roads there. They tend to sit up in a tree or on the ariels on houses and then fly down together on to the food source and "gorge" themselves before flying back up to their viewing area.



One woman had parked her nice Mercedes car underneath one of the trees that the Waxwings had been sitting in and being berry eaters, these seem to pass through the birds quite quickly as they can eat two to three times their body weight in one day and so they have a lot of "bowel movement" and make a bit of mess with their droppings.

The lady could not work out what had happened to her car, she walked around it about four or five times, drove it around the corner and then got out and had another look. I decided to go and tell her what had caused this as she did not look very happy but she drove away. The car was absoloutly covered in Waxwing droppings and im sure she had to go straight to the carwash!!!!

As the berry supply came to an end the birds had to start feeding on the last few that had fallen on the ground. Waxwings are very confiding and you can get quite close to them. Some other photographers were stood quite close by they kept on feeding before a Sparrrowhawk came through and scared them off for a while and put them on edge..


My friend Neil told me of another local site were the Waxwings were, so I took a short drive over to have a look armed with my lens. It was another glorious sunny day and I just had to get a few more images...

Sure enough as I pulled up in my car, there they were in the top of a tree waiting for their next feed. The light was perfect on this bright red berry Cotoneaster shrub in the front garden on the corner of a close.
Where I had pulled up in my car was ideal to get good shots of them but they kept on feeding around the back where I could not see them and was also in shade.
Eventually they started to come around to my side and I started to get some images...




A Redwing turned up too...


This is one of my favourites,if you look carefully you can see the shape of its tongue, its shaped differently to other birds and must have evolved for feeding on berries and the other items in their diet.
I only noticed this after capturing these images in this pose


I have enjoyed photographing and watching these stunning birds, although I would like to get as many images as I can with so many around the county before they have used all the berry supplies and leave for home, back to Scandinavia and Russia......
I hope you have enjoyed looking and will return again soon, thanks.