Waxwings

20th January 2019

After an enjoyable weekend birding in wales, it was time to head back.

Little did I know that there was one more surprise left in stall. We had just left Brecon and were driving through the small town of Crickhowell, reflecting on the days birding. I peered out of the window at a small rotting tree with large mistletoe clumps attached to it. I looked at it again, instantly I realised that there was a group of waxwings in this tree. Stopping in an appropriate lay-by, I rushed over to check their identification. I was correct.

Eight glamorously plumaged waxwings were happily feeding away at the mistletoe. This was a great ending species for my trip.

Waxwings are winter visitors to Britain and are almost entirely seen by accident. This relates to their habit for feeding on berry bushes (especially rowan), in towns and frequently supermarket car parks. They are very accepting of people watching them, often willing to allow very close views. These waxwings were no different, they were perfectly calm as I approached the tree.

Waxwings are mostly a warming pale peach colour. Their tail and underside are a greyer pale colour. However, their tail has a black layer followed by a citrus yellow edge. The wings of this bird are intricately patterned: their primaries are predominantly black with multiple bright white patches which form the base of a golden yellow streak and a small rich red patch – which gives this species is name. Lastly waxwings have a distinct black throat, clear-cut dark eye ring and a prominent buff coloured crest.

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