The car park of the Willow Brook shopping centre in Bradley Stoke became the focus of bird watchers from across the west over the weekend, all eager to witness an invasion by a rare visitor to this part of the country.
Since they were first spotted on Friday afternoon, a flock of up to 45 waxwings that has chosen the car park as a temporary home has been the focus of much discussion on Twitter.
The unusually-coloured birds are native to Scandinavia and Russia but, in years when local supplies run low, they migrate to milder climates in search of food.
Their favourite winter food is fruit, in particular the berries of rowan and hawthorn trees, which explains their presence in the Willow Brook Centre car park, where there are many rowan trees planted between the rows of parking spaces.
Waxwings are most often seen in the north of the UK and on the east coast, but in years when berries are scarce they move further inland in search of sustenance.
The last major “irruption” (influx) of waxwings was in the winter of 2010/11, when sightings were reported in Bradley Stoke near the Aldi supermarket.
The birds were reported to be still around the Willow Brook Centre this morning (Monday 10th) but are likely to be on their way soon as there are very few berries remaining on the trees.
Photo: A waxwing pictured in a rowan tree at the Willow Brook Centre yesterday (Sunday 9th). [Photo credit: Chris Teague]
Related link: Watch out for waxwings (The Guardian)
How the Bradley Stoke waxwing sightings were reported on Twitter
c15 waxwings still at Bradley Stoke Tesco Extra. Feeding in rowans between car wash and entrance every 10-15 mins
— Bristol Nature (@BristolNature) December 8, 2012
What a great day – waxwings at Redland & Bradley Stoke then short eared & barn owl at Marshfield! @BristolNature @AvonBirding
— Kathy Farrell (@enzelifarrell) December 8, 2012
8 Waxwings at Bradley Stoke in Tesco car park (BS32 8EF) this morning
— BristolBirding (@bristolbirding) December 9, 2012
18 Waxwings at Bradley Stoke Tesco. Hanging out in the big tree by zone 1. My 80th species for Bradley stoke this year. pic.twitter.com/iL9bLTeL
— Steve Emery (@SteveDEmery) December 9, 2012
— Sam Hobson (@samhobsonphoto) December 9, 2012
35 plus waxwings in Tesco Bradley stoke now
— Vic savery (@severnrover) December 9, 2012
Picture of one of the 16 Waxwings at Bradley Stoke, Tesco this morning. Lousy light. pic.twitter.com/5uoAfGt5
— Jason Williams (@Clevedonbirder) December 9, 2012
Saw 30+ Waxwing in Tesco car park, Bradley Stoke this morning. They didn't seem to worry about people walking past. pic.twitter.com/iQOeUKXy
— Christopher Teague (@ChristopherTea1) December 9, 2012
At least 45 Waxwings at Tesco extra, Bradley Stoke still.
— Rich Andrews (@CVLbirding) December 9, 2012
@WaxwingsUK Waxwing flock still around tesco bradley stoke 2day great viewing
— Greg Dawes (@GregDawes38) December 9, 2012
17 Waxwings at Bradley Stoke Tesco (BS32 8EF) this morning but very few berries remaining #rbnGLS
— BristolBirding (@bristolbirding) December 10, 2012
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