A bohemian irruption in Rogerstone.


An invasion is occurring in Rogerstone. A flock of Bohemian Waxwings ( Bombycilla garrulus) have been sighted in a residential street in the area and taken a liking to feeding on the berries of a Rowan Tree in a residents garden.

The presence of these beautiful birds has attracted birders and photographers from miles around.

It was during a cold spell in January 2017 some six years ago when I saw my first Waxwing. The birds on this occasion were feeding outside a factory named Meritor in Cwmbran. 

This day also marked my first ever encounter with my good friend Paul Joy and the beginning of years of great birding and photography adventures together . It also resulted in me later meeting and forming friendships with many other birders and photographers that share a wonderful interest in birds, wildlife  and photography in general.

It was fantastic to be in Rogerstone with Paul Joy to see these amazing birds six years later.

Waxwings are not common visitors to the United Kingdom and there arrival is infrequent and tends to occur as an "irruption" event. It is thought that when berries that they feed on are in low numbers in the North of Europe, the Waxwings migrate further south in search of food. They then turn up in all kinds of places usually as a flock and "invade" a location with suitable berries. These beautiful looking birds seem to have a preference for Rowan Tree berries especially the lighter coloured varieties - yellow and white.

The Rogerstone Waxwings when I visited were very focussed on a small Rowan Tree that is laden with yellow coloured berries that is situated in a suburban garden.

The street was full of friendly birders and photographers eager to see these rare visitors. I counted nine birds when they flew in circled above the housing estate and then landed on the roof. Waxwings have very distinctive crests which they use for courtship. 

The birds get their names from the red spikes that project from the middle of the wings that look red wax marks that were used to seal documents in the past.

At one point there must have been about twenty birdwatchers in the street waiting for the birds to land in the Rowan Tree and start feeding. The small flock would land on the roof, wait until it looked safe and then start descending into the tree. During the time I was watching them they only every stayed in the tree for a few seconds before being spooked by something. All the photographers were very respectful and did not get too close. It was usually a local resident walking past the house wondering what all the fuss was about and nothing intentional in any way.

There is now an explosion of wonderful images online ( many make my own pale in comparison) celebrating these rare visitors to the UK.  Its a super way to end my birding year.

Happy New Year to all my readers. Thanks for your support throughout 2023.

I hope 2024 brings you good health and happiness.



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