I went on a rather curious hunting expedition today in York city centre. Early Christmas shopping perhaps? Mmh .... if you knew me well you would know that this would never happen in a month of Micklemas sundays! No, I was of course scouting for birds ... yes out and about with binocs and camera amongst the shoppers and the tourists looking for some very particular birds that sometimes turn up in our cities and gardens in the winter - Waxwings.
They breed in more Northerly climes like Scandinavia and the Baltic states and a few winter here every year but every so often they arrive here in large numbers; this happens because every so often their food supply in the North is not able to sustain their numbers. Waxwings are big finch like birds, about the same size as a Starling, and they feed on flies and berries, they love berries, and this year by all accounts there's been a poor berry crop up in Scandinavia and so there we have it - lots of Waxwings have come to our shores this year. This kind of periodic influx is called an 'irruption' and occurs every 10 years or so as far as Waxwings are concerned and with several other bird species such as Crossbills and Redpolls.
Back to my Waxwing hunt then ...... I'd heard on the grapevine that there were a few flocks in York, some in Rawcliffe and some nr St Georges Field next to the river Ouse. No luck in Rawcliffe, but these birds are quite mobile so its a case of tracking them down. So on to St George's field and result ..... not many and all in big tree tops but at least 15 of these beauties were flying around catching flies in the late afternoon sun. They looked great through the binoculars but too high up in the trees to get any close up shots so I'm going to have another go tomorrow .... here's my best shots from today