Worcestershire Record No. 18 April 2005 pp. 15-16

A WAXWING WINTER ARRIVES AT BROADWAY

Mark and Christine Turner

It all began when Christine printed off an e-mail from Peter F Stewart (Author/Ornithologist) during the evening of Sunday 16th January 2005. It gave news of six Waxwings Bombycilla garrulous at Evesham College car park that afternoon and a female Merlin Falco columbarius around Eveshamís Vale Park Industrial Estate. The Merlin was good news, again a bird returning to a now regular wintering area, but with two males already in the bag this season, I wasnít too distraught. The Waxwings however was a big disappointment, with little chance of going to the site during a workday and my last ones had been almost thirty years ago in a Broadway orchard.

Wednesday 19th January 2005 came around and the weather much improved on recent days with warm sunny periods, occasional cold light wind and heavy dark storm clouds threatened but didnít deliver.

During a normal workday I was making a delivery call with goods to a local address in Broadway at 11:00 hrs when looking across to Leamington Road I noticed a group of Starling-size birds perched in the top of a roadside Lime tree. At first I was really puzzled over them, were they Starlings or Redwings? I continued to unload my delivery of paving slabs, glancing over to the birds each time I returned to my vehicle. A concentrated effort to resolve the puzzle resulted in a real shock. They were too pale to be Starlings, but oh, long prominent crests!

I needed to tell someone. My customer was close by so I explained the significance of the congregation in the trees, some of which had flown over to our side of the road to devour hedgerow berries. I also phoned Christine at home in Pershore. This was a new experience for me and I was afraid they might depart before Christine came over. But how many were there? I counted and re-counted. 21, 30, 40, 55.

The flock occupied the tops of three Lime trees, most were resting and preening, small numbers flew down to a young Rowan that was loaded with orange berries. Others seemed to be catching insects Flycatcher-style, launching from the tops of the Lime trees and gliding back down to perch again. Although their flight was Starling-like, they seemed to glide a lot.

I returned for a better viewing session at 13:00 hrs during an hourís lunch-break. Walking along the Leamington Road from work was surreal. I passed directly beneath groups of perched Waxwings. I still couldnít believe my luck. They were so confiding. This was a major birding event for my local patch.

I collected my mother-in-law who lives nearby to see the spectacle, and then Christine arrived at 13:40 hrs. We commented on their constant twittering, their wing flashes and yellow tail band. Pairs of them resembled Lovebirds huddled together and they seemed oblivious to traffic and passers by. I noticed one Waxwing chased off a Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs.

By 15:00 hrs the Waxwings erupted into a feeding frenzy on another Rowan tree and I had managed to bring another local birdwatcher to the scene. By now my count was 66, but by 16:00 hrs they were gone.

A reduced flock appeared briefly during the next two mornings, but the berry stock was pretty much depleted leaving just enough for a Fieldfare Turdus pilaris to stand guard over them for the next few days.

Email 11.3.05

Dear Harry
In addition to my Waxwing report I would like to announce that today, 10th March, they are back in Broadway for a second showing. They were discovered by Christine at 9.00am close to where they originally appeared back in January. 4 birds perched openly in a garden Rowan tree in Sands Close that was stripped bare of its fruit. They were next seen by myself at 9.45am (8 birds) in the same spot, but moved on through Bloxham Road to alight in a hedgerow nearby. I later found them again at 4.10pm (at least 3 birds) fly catching from the top of a tall tree on the roadside down the Leamington Road opposite Bibsworth House. I last saw them at 5.00pm (6 birds) when they alighted in a medium height, open branched garden tree in Leamington Road/High Street end, but soon took flight and headed off south.

Regards

Mark E Turner

Waxwing drawn by Mark Turner

 
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