Focus On Colour-ringed Waxwings on the move


This page contains 4 reader comments. Click here to view (latest Fri 26/11/10 19:14).

By now, most birders away from the southwest will have been enjoying the early influx of Waxwings, and they are being urged to keep an eye out for colour-ringed birds.

RYR in Dunfermline, seven days after being ringed in Ballater. (Photo: John Nadin.)

While birds have been metal-ringed on Fair Isle (20+), North Ronaldsay (20+) and Inverness (90+), over 100 have been colour-ringed on Orkney, with a further 200 colour-ringed in and around Aberdeen. Many of these birds are moving on very quickly — as can be seen from the map below — with an Orkney bird resighted in Aberdeen six days later and two birds ringed in Aberdeen/Ballater one weekend photographed in Dunfermline and Levens (Cumbria) the next.

Waxwing movements to date (map: Raymond Duncan).

A Swedish-ringed juvenile was recaught in Aberdeen on 5th November, only to be tragically found dead below a window a week later. A further nine unringed juveniles were found dead at another site surrounded by windows in Aberdeen city centre, while 13 suffered a similar fate in Inverness. This is the unfortunate downside to the joys of a Waxwing invasion.

GYR in Levens (Cumbria) seven days after being ringed in Aberdeen. (Photo: Rob Pocklington.)

Numbers, distribution and movements are highly variable between invasions so it will be very interesting to compare movements of ringed birds with the results of the two most recent invasions of 2004 and 2008. Thanks to birders and photographers alike, we receive a high return of records. See map attached for 2008.

Resightings of colour-ringed Waxwings from Aberdeen during the 2008/09 invasion (map: Raymond Duncan).

Anyone seeing a colour-ringed bird should report it direct to Raymond Duncan or via www.ring.ac.

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The information in this article was believed correct at the time of writing. BirdGuides accepts no responsibility for errors, or for any consequences of acting on information in the article. The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily shared by BirdGuides Ltd.

hide section Reader comments (4)

All really interesting stuff, but to we oldies it seems that the definition of the term invasion is being rewritten. Six of the past ten winters have experienced Waxwing invasions, with the 2004 and 2008 invasions just happening to be the largest. There was a gap of seventeen years with no invasions at all before the 'new wave' which commenced in 1988. We very rarely saw flocks of hundreds in the old days. I have a feeling this current invasion might be the largest ever recorded, and one wonders why the species appears to have been generally more productive on its breeding grounds since 1988.
   Iain Gibson, 17/11/10 07:34Report inappropriate post Report 
Flying into windows isn't the only cause of mortality of course. The peregrines that nest on Derby Cathedral took a waxwing in March 2005, a year before the nest platform was set up for them. We found a few red-tipped feathers below the tower. I assume that many more are taken by sparrowhawks and that road traffic accounts for others. The peregrine web cams stay active throughout the year and can be accessed via the blog at http://derbyperegrines.blogspot.com. A clip of one of our adults bringing a live woodcock back to the tower at 11pm one December night last winter was recently shown on Autumnwatch.
   Nick Brown, 17/11/10 17:40Report inappropriate post Report 
Update: A bird colour-ringed on Orkney was seen on 16th November in Norwich (Norfolk), so birds certainly are moving south quickly!
   Mark Grantham (admin), 18/11/10 17:29
Further to Iain's comment, I remember well what a scarce bird this used to be - hence the term invasion. I was wondering if the abundance of car parks & berries in the UK is starting to become hard-wired into waxwing winter dispersal plans?
   james mccarthy, 26/11/10 19:14Report inappropriate post Report 

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