Birdwatchers’ anger as berry trees felled

Birdwatchers taking photographs of waxwings in the car park of the Willow Brook Centre, Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook Centre has come under fire from birdwatching enthusiasts for chopping down around 20 rowan trees whose berries had attracted a flock of rare migrant waxwings over the winter months.

Just days after crowds of waxwing-seeking photographers in the shopping centre’s car park had made headlines in the Journal and been featured on BBC Radio Bristol, contractors at the site began felling the trees, resulting in a torrent of criticism on social media.

Birding enthusiasts noted that the centre management had previously welcomed their presence and praised their photos of the “beautiful birds”.

The Willow Brook Centre responded by saying that the rowan trees were being removed because they were in “poor condition”, with half their number having been removed two years ago and replaced with a species “more suited to poor drainage / little root space”.

In a more comprehensive statement published two days later on the Willow Brook Centre website, it was explained that tree surgeons called in to assess around a dozen rowan trees on the site had found them “dehydrated, undernourished and in a poor way”.

Centre manager Andy Wynn said:

“We fully appreciate it is a disappointment to cut down the trees, and therefore the habitat of these birds, however, given the condition of the rowans, we were left with no option but to remove them.”

More information and related links:

Birdwatchers’ reactions to the tree felling (on social media)

For the birds: No waxwings at Bradley Stoke this morning and the rowans all being cut down.

Matt Collis: @Tesco please can you explain why this is happening at your Bradley Stoke store?! Rowan’s brilliant for the birds & enjoyed by many people.

Amy Schwartz: @WillowBrookCtr Many do not seem to be dying at all and have produced an incredible berry crop. If some are dying and have to be replaced, then would other rowans be able to be replanted along the edge of the car parks where there is more room?

Rod Holbrook: @WillowBrookCtr @Tesco Why have the rowan trees been cut down? It’s a disgrace.

Lee: @Tesco your blatant disregard towards the natural world, and the Bradley Stoke waxwings & rowan trees have lost you a customer. Forever.

Dave: @WillowBrookCtr keep the rowan trees. They’ve proven the soil is good enough by providing berries for many wintering waxwings.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on page 33). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to 9,500 homes in Bradley Stoke, Little Stoke and Stoke Lodge. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Postscript (27/3/17)

Further information supplied by the Willow Brook Centre:

  • Number of rowan trees originally on the site: 28
  • Number of rowan trees removed two years ago: 13
  • A small number of rowan trees remain by Waves and by the petrol station
  • It has not been possible to relocate any of the removed rowan trees because the roots were “not in a good enough condition”
  • The potential for planting new rowan trees on the site will be reviewed once the current work is completed
Share this page: