For the second winter in the last three, unusually high numbers of Waxwings are being seen in Britain. These spectacular pink starling-sized birds with a wacky crest arrived in their thousands from Scandinavia in the late autumn to escape a failure of the berry crop there. The first arrivals were mostly in the north of the country, but they rapidly spread south, and flocks of up to 1000 birds have been seen from Kent to Shetland. However, the berry crop here hasn’t been very good either, so the large flocks have now mostly split up, and groups of up to 40 are being seen all over the country, with lots in London.
Unlike in the 2010-11 invasion, when Tower Hamlets was probably the only London Borough where no Waxwings were reported, there have already been a couple of records in the Borough this month. A flock of 10 was reported from Mile End Park on Saturday 2 February, and two were beside the canal behind Waterman Way in Wapping on 7 February. More can be expected, so please keep a lookout, especially anywhere there are berries. If you do see Waxwings in Tower Hamlets, please let the Biodiversity Officer know.
Header photo by John Archer