Rural Reading: Keep an eye out for waxwingsBy Adrian Lawson
December 03, 2010
When the weather gets this cold a lot of birds flock together to find food and look out for predators.
Flocks of redwings can be found pillaging hawthorn bushes for their berries, and The Cowsey off Northumberland Avenue is absolutely crawling with them so they are relatively easy to find.
Siskins swarm in the tops of Alder trees and are quite easily over-looked unless you hear the soft calls or spot them in flight.
There are some huge flocks around Reading drawn here by the relative easy conditions, when you consider what it has been like in the east of the country.
The harsh conditions have, though, sent a real bonus in the form of waxwings.
It is only every few years they arrive in Britain at all, and normally they are to be found scattered along the east coast. This is one such year. There is not enough food for them all on the continent.
Soon after they arrived on the east coast the weather turned bad, so they headed inland and can now be found anywhere there are berries.
For two days this week I cycled around looking for them. These are truly remarkable birds. They are pink, with a bold black stripe through the eye and below the beak. They have wing feathers tipped with red and yellow, a yellow tip to their tail and the most remarkable parakeet-like crest on the top of their head.
I found none in Reading, but saw 60 or so in Bracknell. These birds aren’t going north until after the winter so it is a pretty good bet that there will be some in Reading soon.