Catherine Burgess tells us about the bird life in her garden.
‘I have just woken up to a crisp and frosty early Decmber morning and had a stunning winter walk with the dog.
Just turning the corner on my return back to our end of terrace house I was greeted by an unfamiliar sound in the roadside cotoneaster.
In and amongst a mixed flock of redwing, mistle thrush and fieldfare were three waxwings.
I had been keeping my eye out as I had heard that flocks were moving westward. Waxwings are absolutely beautiful with silky smooth plumage – they are about the size of a small starling. When the weather turns cold in their wintering grounds of western and northern Europe there are literally too many birds outstripping the food supply, they head west – these irregular movements I’m told are called irruptions! Our gardens are a haven for hungry fruit eating waxwings. The wide range of plants we have selected for their winter berry colour are perfect – formal planting and landscaping around business parks often include swathes of cotoneaster or pyracantha – the planting isn’t often very inspiring but the flowers and berries are fantastic for wildlife. The best places to see waxwings are in fact supermarket car parks – the last waxwings I saw were at the M5 services in Exeter!
Some species of cotoneaster have escaped and pose a real threat in the countryside – so take care when selecting a plant for the garden – why not try planting rowan (ornamental varieties are great for wildlife) or a hawthorn – great winter colour and also fantastic for hungry thrushes and maybe you’ll be lucky enough to spot a waxwing on its travels. ‘
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