Bird­watch shows waxwing num­bers tak­ing flight

The Oban Times - - News -

AN EX­PLO­SION in sight­ings of waxwings was recorded dur­ing the RSPB’s Big Gar­den Bird­watch 2017.

Over the last week­end in Jan­uary, and for the first time in­clud­ing the Mon­day, more than 3,500 peo­ple in Scot­land counted 626,184 birds in the 38th year of the sur­vey.

Waxwings are reg­u­lar vis­i­tors to our shores and flock in much higher num­bers once ev­ery seven or eight years when the berry crop fails in their na­tive Scan­di­navia.

Re­sults show that in 2017, 21 times more waxwings were spot­ted in Scot­tish gar­dens than in pre­vi­ous years, sug­gest­ing this may have been one of the in­flux years.

Weather con­di­tions in the run up to Bird­watch this year meant there was also an in­crease in num­bers of other mi­grant birds such as red­wings and field­fare as the sub-zero tem­per­a­tures on the con­ti­nent forced them here in search of a milder win­ter.

Keith Mor­ton, species pol­icy of­fi­cer at RSPB Scot­land, said: ‘Waxwings are very strik­ing, ex­otic-look­ing birds with prom­i­nent crests, ban­dit masks around their eyes and brightly-coloured waxy quills on their wings, the rea­son for their name.

‘They do visit Scot­land most win­ters but this year around 21 times more waxwings were seen than usu­ally noted in the sur­vey. They were also recorded in far higher num­ber than usual across the rest of the UK and seen as far west as Wales and North­ern Ire­land. Their dis­tinc­tive colour­ing and love for berries make them a great sight to see’

House spar­rows re­mained the most spot­ted species, as they have been since 2012, with star- lings in sec­ond, push­ing chaffinches to third, and black­birds and blue tits rounded off the top five. School­child­ren got in on the act with the Big Schools Bird­watch sur­vey, which saw more than 6,300 school chil­dren spot­ting birds. Black­birds re­mained the most com­mon play­ground vis­i­tor fol­lowed by car­rion crows and star­lings.

For more in­for­ma­tion about the visit www.rspb.org.uk/ bird­watch.

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