Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Colour-ringed Waxwing Update

In 2010 Grampian and Orkney Ringing Groups individually colour-ringed almost 500 waxwings between late October and late November.

GYG at Prescot, Knowsley, Merseyside (Steve Tomlinson)

Thanks to so many birders, photographers and ringers throughout the country over 100 resightings have been reported along with 6 dead birds. At less than 1 in 5 birds, this is an outstanding return rate for a passerine (and hopefully there are more to come). A big thanks to all. Below is a map the movements so far.

Every waxwing invasion is different but early movements seemed fairly normal with some rapid movements from Orkney to Aberdeen, an Orkney bird in Norwich within a couple of weeks of ringing and several Aberdeen birds well south within a few weeks (in Dunfermline, Lothian, Glasgow, Cumbria and Manchester). Then the cold and snowy weather arrived and really put a spanner in the works.

The waxwing circus trapeze artists. You forget how agile waxwings can be when feeding until you see these images like this, taken in Dorchester, Dorset (Chris Rowland)

With competition for berries at a premium (mistle thrushes were even having to fight off wood pigeons this winter) the remaining Waxwings in Aberdeen departed en masse earlier than ever before, leaving fewer behind than ever before. There then followed a record fast movement towards the south of England with unprecedented numbers along the south coast. From colour ring sightings it appeared many of these birds leap frogged those already further north in England. 8 colour-ringed birds were reported in Kent alone.

2 different colour-ringed birds drinking in the same gutter in Hemel Hempstead. Even waxwings let themselves down occasionally! Photographed and reported independently by different birders. (Joan Thompson, Michael Nott)

With this build up on the south coast we wondered if birds might start crossing the channel into France and Belgium. However, numerous sightings of colour-ringed birds suggests they are preferring to head east or west along the south coast in search of berries rather than face another hazardous sea crossing. That’s so far any way. Meanwhile colour-ringed birds are still being reported from further north so it will be exciting to see what develops over the next couple of months

Two colour ringed bird in one photo! GBL and BBG in Northampton (Ian Pretty)

Once again, a big thank you to everybody who has taken the time and trouble to report colour-ringed waxwings, many with tremendous photographs which we have kindly been allowed to use in articles such as this. Keep up the great work.
Raymond Duncan
(On behalf of Grampian and Orkney Ringing Groups)

Young love! YGB, an Orkney bird, at Hardingstone, Northants. (Dave Jackson)

1 comment:

  1. Hi my name is john conway,we have had up to 80 Waxwings at the junction of Leeds Street and Scotland Road Liverpool for over a week now, and yesterday 3.2.2011 two waxwings where spotted with Colour-rings on, one was from the top of it's left leg ( blue red green )and the other was on it's right leg from the top a ( silver metal ring and a white Colour-ring ),hope this may help you if would like photo's of them email me at regards john conway