WINGED visitors from Scandinavia have invaded York from the air – in search of a snack.
These pictures of hundreds of waxwings, which are not commonly seen in such large numbers in the city, were taken by Woodthorpe resident and keen birdwatcher Sue Gabbatiss, showing the birds feasting on rowan berries which grow on trees in the area.
Waxwings do not breed in the UK but head here, often in huge flocks called “irruptions”, for winter when not enough food is available at their own breeding grounds in Scandinavia. They usually head for the east coast, between Scotland and East Anglia, first but then move inland.
“It’s quite unusual for them to be seen so easily in York, and when we were out for a walk we saw between 100 and 200 of them on the trees in Woodthorpe,” said Sue.
“They were obviously hungry because they stripped the rowan trees completely bare. We didn’t see any of them last year and they aren’t often seen in York, so it was surprising that so many of them are here this year.”
To help you identify a waxwing, they are plump birds which are slightly smaller than starlings and have a prominent crest. The are reddish brown with black throats, small black masks around their eye, yellow and white tinges on their wings and yellow-tipped tails.