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It's waxwing season!

Friday 20th January 2017

Waxwing, by Guy BadhamWaxwing, by Guy Badham

Rare waxwings are being spotted in Derbyshire, with more set to arrive over the coming weeks.

Waxwings are delightful, colourful birds the size of starlings that turn up in the UK in some but not all winters, feasting on berry-bearing shrubs often in town and city centres. The birds have crests and small red projections on some wing feathers which are waxy in nature – hence the bird’s name.

This is a ‘waxwing winter’; flocks over 500 strong appeared first in Scotland in November and December. Some birds will now stay in the UK until spring. Once they have depleted the berries north of the border they begin to move south and now there are records of flocks across the Midlands. There have been many reports from Derbyshire since the New Year and from Glossop to Derby city itself.

Flocks can range in size from fewer than ten individuals right up to hundreds of birds. The biggest flock spotted in the county so far was 200 birds in Chesterfield. Waxwings are mainly spotted in the north and east of the UK, so please report any sightings of these rare birds!