Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Waxwing lyrical part 12 - the not so nisus

I didn't get chance to do a proper count but there were over 50 Waxwings feeding in the garden again today. The Estonian ringed bird and colour ringed bird from Aberdeen were both seen several times throughout the day. I did have a net up briefly first thing and ringed another 4 birds and retrapped 5 but the sun soon became a problem so I took the net down.

It was a glorious sunny day and became quite warm in the afternoon and it was great to see the Waxwings doing quite a bit of fly catching at times. However the apples are their mainstay and they must have got through the best part of 6kg of apples today. They were helped, ever so slightly, by a female Blackcap that has been frequenting the garden for the past few weeks and is also partial to apples. The female Fieldfare is still with us and I have set up her own apple feeding area which she defends with vigour and a noisy chacking call.

Now for the not so nisus part. This afternoon the Waxwings all suddenly flushed in dramatic fashion and it sounded like one had hit a window. I looked out to see if one had only to see an adult male Sparrowhawk perched on top of an adult Waxwing in the corner of the garden. One of my sons managed to get some record shots through the window and these showed that this was a different male Sparrowhawk to the one caught and ringed last week. This bird was in full adult plumage and probably in its fourth calendar year at least.

Adult male Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus) on a Waxwing kill.
Too much attention by Sparrowhawks could really have a detrimental affect on the Waxwings feeding behaviour as has been experienced elsewhere. Tonight I put some apples in additional trees to give the Waxwings more feeding options and a better chance of spotting any predators when feeding. Only time will tell if this has the desired results.

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