Waxwings at last!

03rd January 2017
The winter of 2016/2017 has seen a huge number of Waxwings come into the UK. This is predominately caused by a food shortage in their wintering territories in Scandinavia and the very north and east of Europe and Russia. Most winters only a small number make the journey to the UK, usually in the north of the country, but in other years, such as 2016/2017 thousands arrive. The descriptive term for this mass movement of birds is an irruption and irrupt they certainly have.
The north of Scotland first saw large flocks in the hundreds appearing and there are still a large number of birds there but inevitably they move south and west. It is geographically impossible for them to do anything else, because they are not going back home to a food shortage, and indeed the north of England next saw large numbers, Cumbria, Northumberland, Yorkshire and also Norfolk.
Next small flocks started to appear in north Wales and that made me hope that some birds would move south as food became more scarce. it doesn't follow that they would come south to the Brecon Beacons because they may pass the mountains and go either side. In fact this is often the case with birds appearing in Cardiff and not in the Beacons. However, I remained hopeful and on new years eve two birds were seen in Brecon town centre. I immediately dropped everything and drove there but the weather was grim and I didn't see them. New years day was a dreadful affair with grey skies, wind and incessant rain but I was hopeful that the weather would keep them in Brecon.
January the second dawned and I was off again in search of these beautiful birds and much to my delight I found five birds in the grounds of the local hospital. They were flying back and fore some berry trees in the car park and the local houses which fortunately contained further berry laden trees. After asking a very nice elderly lady for access to her garden I was able to get some shots against a bright sky with these confident birds perching virtually in front of me. It is not difficult to photograph Waxwings because as a rule they don't fear humans, the difficulty lies in finding them in the first place.
It was a real thriil to find these birds once again in Brecon.



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