Bird watchers flock to witness waxwings in Willow Brook car park

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)

How the Bradley Stoke waxwing sightings were reported on Twitter

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  1. I spotted them this morning in the nature reserve when I was following the path from the new pedestrian crossing opposite the Willow Brook Car Park. Made my day!

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