Posts Tagged ‘birds’

Woods Estate Agents, Bradley Stoke, Bristol

Council steps in to replace lost berry trees

Posted on Monday 5th March 2018 at 9:32 pm by SH (Editor)

Waxwing pictured at the Willow Brook Centre. [Photo credit: Chris Teague]

Bradley Stoke Town Council (BSTC) has stepped in to ensure that, in future years, there will be a plentiful supply of food for a rare category of occasional visitor to the town.

In recent winters, the town has become well known amongst the bird watching community as a favoured feeding ground for waxwings, unusually coloured birds which are native to Scandinavia and Russia, but who sometimes migrate to the UK when local food supplies run low.

They are attracted to Bradley Stoke by the area’s above average density of rowan trees, whose berries constitute the birds’ favourite food source.

“Irruptions” (influxes) of waxwings have been noted locally in three of the last seven winters and the one last year drew scores of bird watching enthusiasts to the Willow Brook shopping centre, where the birds spent several weeks stripping the rowan trees of berries.

But the birdwatchers’ delight turned to anger when contractors at the centre started uprooting some of the rowan trees, leading to protests and heated exchanges on social media.

The centre management responded by saying that the trees were in a poor condition and were being substituted with other species in a rolling maintenance programme that had begun two years earlier. Altogether, 28 rowans were removed over two years, although the centre says it has since planted five new ones and a few others remain on the site.

Following last year’s controversy, Cllr John Ashe asked if the town council might consider planting replacements, and it has now agreed to purchase 60 rowan trees which will be planted in two separate locations within the town’s Three Brooks Local Nature Reserve. Some will be planted on the bank of the Tump and the others alongside the community orchard.

More: Trees will be planted by Green Gym and Conservation Group »

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Birdwatchers’ anger as berry trees felled

Posted on Friday 14th April 2017 at 9:07 am by SH (Editor)

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:

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

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Twitchers flock to Willow Brook car park

Posted on Thursday 9th March 2017 at 10:26 pm by SH (Editor)

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

Anyone driving past the car wash in the car park of Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre in recent weeks and seeing tens of photographers lined up on the edge of the road might be forgiven for thinking a film star had popped in to have their Rolls-Royce valeted. The reality, however, is that the guys (and gals) with the long lenses had them trained on a number of small berry-laden trees that have been attracting a rare visitor (of the feathered variety) to the area.

The birdwatching world in the south-west had been awash with reports of sighting of waxwings, starling-sized birds having a prominent punk-like crest and brightly coloured wings, with waxy-looking red tips on the flight feathers.

Waxwing on a tree in the car park of the Willow Brook Centre in Bradley Stoke, Bristol.

Waxwings are native to Scandinavia and Russia but, in winters 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 particularly scarce, they move further inland in search of sustenance.

The last major ‘irruption’ (influx) of waxwings was in the winter of 2012/13, when several sightings were recorded in Bradley Stoke.

One of the photographers we spoke to at Willow Brook, Mark Jones, told us he had travelled from Berkshire in search of the elusive birds, of which there are thought to be just a few thousand scattered across the country. He said:

“The flock that has been seen in Bradley Stoke is made up of around 15 birds – not a big number at all, and because they only come over once every four or five years, it’s really great to have the opportunity to see them.”

“They’re so striking – they’re one of those birds where you think: ‘Wow, that’s really pretty’”.

“They do seem to turn up in the same places whenever there’s an irruption. It seems they’re able to smell out which are the ripest berries, so you must just have the ripest most well-done berries around here!”

More: Photographers are welcome, says shopping centre manager »

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Bird watchers flock to witness waxwings in Willow Brook car park

Posted on Monday 10th December 2012 at 9:51 am by SH (Editor)

Waxwing pictured at the Willow Brook Centre. [Photo credit: Chris Teague]

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]

More photos of the Bradley Stoke waxwings can be found on the blogs of Chris Teague and Sam Hobson.

Related link: Watch out for waxwings (The Guardian)

More: How the Bradley Stoke sightings were reported on Twitter »

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