Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wondering about Waxwings

I saw my first Waxwings of the winter right back at the end of October, a handful close to home, but it's taken until the last week to catch up with many more. On Sunday, though, there were three decent sized flocks in the middle of Coalville, Leicestershire, where I live.

The first thing to notice was that these birds were very much confirming what we're always told about Waxwings, with two of the flocks turning up in supermarket car-parks (Netto and the Co-op/Iceland, out of interest, although I'm not sure they're especially discerning).

The third flock, in a few rowan trees around the Clock Tower, tended to refute the Waxwing stereotype, though. They actually fed on very few berries (the trees around the square had been largely stripped anyway), instead spending most of their time eating the occasional insect, and hanging around in the manner of people waiting for a party to begin.

The good news for them is that, when the cold weather returns in the next couple of days, there are plenty of berries still around. The car-park of the nearby doctor's surgery is one huge cotoneaster buffet just waiting to be raided.

Finally, on the way to work this morning, a few were in a tree next to the A47 at Tixover. It's strange that, though they can look superficially Starling-like, you very quickly start to find them totally distinctive, even at distances at which their crests aren't apparent. It's something to do with the way they move and interract with each other - a classic case of 'jizz' being more important than more tangible ID factors.


Pete said...

I always find them a lot more upright in posture than starlings when perched, and a lot more uniform in flight.

Mike Weedon said...

Yes, the posture is a real giveaway, isn't it, even at quite long distance.

David said...

I am looking forward to the return of the Waxwings this winter.