Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Waxwing lyrical part 16 - a month in.

Yesterday marked 4 weeks since the first Waxwing turned up in the garden. Around 30 were feeding there before I went to work but when I came home it was clear that far more apples had been eaten than I would expect from that number of birds. While I was up the ladder putting out more apples a neighbour told me that some birdwatchers had counted 53 late morning which made far more sense.

There was some interesting behaviour in the hour I was able to watch them first thing. One Waxwing guarded the apples in the main feeding tree. It flicked out its wings and chased off any others that tried to feed in the tree and effectively forced them to feed on the apples on the buddleias and other smaller trees. It uttered a warning 'seep' call that was not as thin as the call of Redwing. It even chased off other species including Blue Tit and Siskin. It moved around the tree feeding on different apples then would sit alert with crest raised and flick out its wings. I haven't seen anything like this before; the odd squabble and bit of sparring is common place in the feeding flocks but this was something very different. Unfortunately I couldn't stay and watch and headed off to work.

I was late home as I had to go and top up the feeders at one of my baited sites and buy some more apples. I also made a detour on my way home to prune some cotoneaster berries that I had spotted on route to a meeting earlier in the day. I have spent the best part of two hours putting apples and cotoneaster berries up in the garden along with a few in the trees across the road. Around 90 apple halves are now waiting for the Waxwings along with numerous sprays of berries. This should be more than enough to keep a flock of 50 or 60 well fed for another day.

The bird it all started with a month ago.

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