Sunday, 20 January 2019

Waxwing and waning (…and resighting!)

With several reports of waxwings up and down the east coast from mid-October excitement mounted for hopes of a another of Aberdeen’s bumper waxwing winters. Numerous mobile flocks began to be reported and numbers built up to 300+ birds across the city by late November. Traditional berry tree hotspots were under surveillance as smaller flocks began grouping up. The city’s mistle thurshes were starting to panic as waxwings descended on their prized rowan trees. But the rush didn’t last, numbers soon stalled and as birds continued moving southwards totals began to dwindle and soon fizzled out. We did, however, succeed in colour ringing a few birds while the numbers peaked with the current total standing at 23 (22 juveniles and 1 adult). 

Even with this small sample we quickly received a resighting from Tony Davis in Kirkcaldy (Fife) a week after ringing in Aberdeen. Although the full combination couldn’t be read, the right leg showed a yellow colour-ring below the metal ring which identified it as one of ours from this year

Waxwing in the hand
Just as I was writing this blog and already feeling quite pleased with our capture/resighting ratio the next flurry of resightings came as a welcome surprise… Among a flock of around 150 waxwings that spent several days in Edinburgh was waxwing YGR, a young male ringed in Aberdeen 17 days earlier.

Photo by Richard Wells – Waxwing YGR in Balgreen, Edinburgh on 13/12/18
We then had a pair spotted in Yorkshire, a young male (YYW) and female (YWW), on 24 December by Mike Robinson, Richard Hughes, and Hannah Greetham. Waxwing YWW then went on to be seen with a flock of 5 birds in Norfolk 5 days later.
Photo by Mike Dawson – YWW in Long Straton, Norfolk 29/12/18
This was topped off by another Norfolk sighting, this time of YBR in Norwich – a young female ringed a week earlier in Aberdeen.
Photo by Brian Anderson - young female (YBR) Norwich 31/12/18
So with only 23 birds ringed we managed 6 resightings of 5 birds – a 26% resighting rate! Proving that these little scandi jewels are always quality, even in small quantities. A massive thank you to all our wonderful waxwing reporters! As always, any colour ring resightings are hugely appreciated and we’re very grateful to anyone who takes the time to look - so please do check any waxwings you see(and your photographs!) and report them to and/or 

Wishing you all the best in the New Year from all of GRG,

Caitlin Tarvet