Waxwings causing a stir in Welwyn Hatfield

ARCTIC birds which migrate to Britain in search of food in the winter – but are not normally seen this far inland – have been causing a flap in Welwyn Hatfield.

Waxwings are berry-eating birds native to northern Europe and Siberia.

Between October and March they fly to our shores, and are most often seen on the east coast, from Scotland down to East Anglia.

But a particularly large influx of waxwings in this harsh winter has forced many of the starling-sized birds further inland – to the delight of Times Territory twitchers.

Barry Trevis, warden at Lemsford Springs nature reserve, said the waxwings were flocking to our county in record numbers.

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He said: “As far as we know, we’ve never seen such large numbers in Hertfordshire.

“It’s a strange phenomenon, called an ‘eruption’, that happens very irregularly, although has been on the increase in the last 15 to 20 years or so.”

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WHT reader Anthony Dorman said: “This winter has seen exceptional numbers arriving.

“The first birds were seen locally in the Birchwood area of Hatfield before Christmas, while on New Year’s Eve almost 200 birds entertained Waitrose shoppers and council workers by feeding in trees outside the council offices on The Campus.”

Another reader who spotted the birds on The Campus was Michael France, who took snaps on Sunday afternoon.

He said: “A group of about 70 waxwings have been creating a bit of a stir this past week or so as they plunder the berry-laden trees outside the council offices.”

Waxwings are stout-bodied and short-legged, with an upstanding pointed crest.

They are easily identifiable due to their black throats, black wings with white, yellow and waxy red markings, and yellow-tipped tails.

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