Wax­ing lyri­cal over vis­i­tors

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - HERALD & POST -

YOU’RE very un­lucky if you haven’t yet spot­ted one of these beau­ti­ful birds this win­ter.

We’ve had a su­perb fall of waxwings on Teesside and they have vis­ited many parts of our area in good num­bers.

When they first be­gan ar­riv­ing from North­ern Scan­di­navia and Siberia in Novem­ber, I drove through to Billing­ham to take a few pic­tures close to the Owing­ton Farm pub.

Soon waxwings were seen in sev­eral dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing Cargo Fleet Lane, Sains­bury’s car park in Mid­dles­brough cen­tre and also close to Alexan­ders Motors at Thorn­aby.

Like most bird­ers, I keep an an­nual bird list, which starts again from scratch ev­ery Jan­uary 1.

So it was use­ful to tick off waxwing without any fuss on New Year’s Day, though strangely I checked out just one in­di­vid­ual at the Graythorp In­dus­trial Es­tate – which used to be Graythorp vil­lage – near Hartle­pool

Power Sta­tion.

This su­perb photo of a wax­ing was taken by Bar­bara Fitz­patrick as it pre­pares to de­vour the berries in her Red­car gar­den.

Bar­bara writes: “I have had many dif­fer­ent birds in my gar­den over the year. So far I have counted 26 dif­fer­ent species from the lit­tle wren to herring gulls.

“There was even a red legged par­tridge which came ev­ery day for a week and then dis­ap­peared as quickly as it came.

“So you can imag­ine my de­light last year when one sin­gle waxwing was in my crab ap­ple tree. The other day I was even more de­lighted when four landed on a few ap­ples and I man­aged to get pic­tures of two of them.”

One thing about waxwings is that they can be very nu­mer­ous one win­ter and then vir­tu­ally ab­sent dur­ing the next one.

I can’t re­call the last year in which I didn’t see one, though my de­vo­tion to my Year List sent me to Jar­row to tick them off in 2015, which is an in­di­ca­tion of how few were seen on Teesside.

And, on the sub­ject of lists, why not join Bar­bara by keep­ing your own gar­den list. It’s a bit of fun but also helps top sharpen up your bird­ing.

I’ve seen species such as wood­cock, field­fare, red­start, long tailed tit, black­cap and grey heron in my gar­den - and I live in an ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment.

I also once saw a flock of around 30 waxwings fly over the top of my gar­den without land­ing. Must plant some berry­bear­ing bushes!

Eric would like to hear from read­ers about what they have seen. Email him at eric.pay­lor@gmail.com

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