Monday, 15 November 2010

Waxwings still here :-)

I hope I don’t jinx their stay by saying that! Especially as I am now trying to tempt them from the large mature trees they are preening and sunning themselves on to come down into my garden. I most likely have no chance in doing so but as you might expect, I’m giving it my best shot :-)

Wouldn’t it just be the thing, that after having Rowan Berries for the last 18 years in my garden that it was this year that I decided to cut back my tree during work on my new (unfinished) wildlife pond… Aw well ;-)

No matter, after seeing apples being popular with Waxwings on the Fair Isle that was the route I would take to tempt them in to my garden.

Unfortunately, for a feeding experiment like this (being a plants person) I don’t have a lot of open areas that would give the Waxwings a chance to actually see my special Waxwing café.

A number of years ago I made a ring of apples to feed the birds in the winter. I threaded strong wire through the apples. From memory it wasn’t that popular.

Since then I found that coring an apple and pushing it into spikes (like my obelisk) works very well with Blackbirds and Blackcaps thoroughly enjoying them there. I think once the skin has been broken the birds seem more interested in feeding from them.




For my 2010 Waxwing feeding station experiment I looked out my strong wire again. I quickly popped down to my local supermarket for five (reasonably priced) bags of apples.

Without coring the apples first, I threaded the wire through them. My plan was to decorate the brightest and most open tree in my garden with apple garlands.

Thinking on photo opportunities from my window the Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum palmatum Sango-Kaku) was the one. Okay, this isn’t a big enough tree to support 60 Waxwings but they could land on my Ivy covered Pergola, my Leylandii hedge or my small Pine trees and work their way across from there.

As this tree does not have thick branches I used small metal bird feeder hooks to help take the strain. Bending this strong wire around was a bit tricky but big loops of wire will also act as a solid perch for the Waxwings should the decide to dine here… we can but dream ;-)

Job almost done except that perhaps the Waxwings would be more attracted to the fruit flesh. A few slim slices of the face of some of the fruit did the trick.


Notice the sunflower feeder. It is popular with Blue, Great and Coal tits - Goldfinches too.


Sorry, there was no time to take step-by-step photos. Understandably, as this was a sunny lunchtime, I was in a hurry to get the job done… did someone call service?

Perhaps Waxwings like to have an earlier lunch? Perhaps a mid-morning snack before sunning themselves? Unfortunately rain is forecasted here for tomorrow but rain or shine the Waxwing Café at shirls gardenwatch will be open ;-)

Without any control over focus or light conditions, my video will be ready to record too. Can’t believe the timing of this but equally I can’t believe the timing of this experiment either… I’ll come back to that at the end of the week :-)

Today I captured video footage of the Waxwings from outside in my garden across to one of three mature trees I can see them visit. In the beginning of the video below the sun isn’t shining on the tree but this changes. At a guess there were 60+ seen at one point.

Although the images aren’t the best they do show a bit of the character of these wonderful birds. I enjoyed watching the way they moved about positions on the tree and how they would fly away in all directions. I like to see them enjoying the sun too.

In the close-up view you can see that they are almost behaving like parrots. Notice the two in the bottom right just seen preening. When some birds fly off the bird above looks like its suggesting they fly off too. I do enjoy seeing the behaviour of birds like this.




Finally for tonight, I’m aware that searches for Waxwings sightings are finding there way to my blog so I’ve been doing a bit of searching myself tonight that might be of interest.

If you follow this link to BIRDNET you will see more details of fairly recent Waxwing sightings on Thursday November 11th.

Note: If you hold down the Ctrl key in your keyboard and press the ‘f’ key you’ll get a ‘find’ box above the webpage on the right. If you type in the word waxwing, the webpage will appear with waxwing highlighted in yellow. That should help you find your way around.

Listed are:

Scotland: Aberdeen, Ayr, Clyde, Granton-on-Spey, Lothian, Perth & Kinross, Fife, Shetland.

England: Cumbria, Derby, Berks, Lancs, Co. Durham, Lincs, Norfolk, Northumberland, Staffs, E.Yorks, N.Yorks, S.Yorks, W.Yorks,

Wales: Gwynedd, Conwy,

Northern Ireland: Co. Antrim, Belfast, Ballycastle, Co. Cork.


BIRDING LOTHIAN is another website here in Scotland. They suggest you text in sightings (to 07794509106). I see Edinburgh had quite a few sightings of Waxwings today at the Airport, Sighthill and South Gyle.

If you know any other websites that are listing sightings please leave a comment below. If you want to share your Waxwing sightings please do add them here too.

Now… I wonder what tomorrow might bring ;-)


All images shown above were taken from my garden on November 15th 2010.

10 comments:

Liz said...

Hey Shirl,

Great to see you have Waxwings, hopefully they will come down to your apples soon. I'm waiting for them to visit me... There are some in Sheffield - as there are most years - but it's only a relatively small flock compared to a couple of years ago when we had large groups of 40+ flying around.
As there are only around 15, I won't go twitching to find them...

And although I always fantasise about going to Grantown-on-spey at this time of year, now I wish even more so that I was up there in 'our' cottage!

shirl said...

Hi there Liz, sorry I haven’t been by your blog in a while. I had hoped to catch up on my garden blogging friends yesterday for GBBD but alas something distracted me ;-)

Love your cyclamen BTW, I am envious of that! I tried growing a group a few years back but lost the lot :-(

Thanks for adding Sheffield for Waxwing sightings here. It may be that you’ve just got some early visitors and many more will come! Hope so :-D

I’ll be honest here and say I’ve no idea at all if they usually pass our way. Had I not been out in the garden picking up leaves that afternoon I probably would never have known about them.

Aw… maybe next year you’ll get back up to your cottage. Don’t know if they have snow up there just now but I heard the roads were quite bad with snow between Carlisle and Glasgow in parts late Sunday evening!!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

That is some fancy way to serve up apples. I hope the waxwings come to them. The waxwings here love those tiny crab apples. I have never seen them on the apples on our apple tree. They love the hackberry trees though. Probably because they are fruiting while they are nesting.

ShySongbird said...

Well if I was a Waxwing I would definitely visit that treat Shirl! You made an excellent job of it. I do hope your hard work is rewarded even though I shall turn even greener :)

I left quite a lot of apples where they fell this year for the birds but I think I might spear some onto tree branches in the vain hope of attracting you know who :)

By the way I do hope my comment didn't sound like a criticism when I said it was becoming too long to include all I wanted to. I was criticising myself for never knowing when to stop when commenting :) Definitely not a criticism of your excellent posts, they are always a pleasure to read whatever the length.

I'm so looking forward to seeing a result in your garden :)

shirl said...

Hello again Jan, yes me too!! It was dull today except early morning when the sun just lights up this tree. It looked glorious :-)

I really do think the chances are very slim that they will spot my offering with hedges and houses putting it in the shade most of the time. I just thought I would try this after they didn’t show interest in the ones out in on the open grass area. I don’t think you’ll be going green again :-)

Yes, do try spearing on a tree. I’d think that would probably give you the best chance of success. My trees are small and thin in branches hence my elaborate offering - although I was frantically trying to put it together hearing the Waxwings on the mature trees. You can imagine me I’m quite sure! Lol… I got tangled more than a few times… and I just couldn’t get the wire cut. You could have made cider out of my coat too ;-)

I do hope you get to see Waxwings in your area too. With it getting colder up here I wonder if they will move away towards you :-)

I am sorry, I can see how my last reply may have come across. I absolutely, never thought of your reply as any criticism at all. I completely understand what you are saying. My comment was more meant towards myself. When I finally finish long posts I do have a tang of regret that readers will need to stay so long. Comments in these posts are particularly welcome. Thank-you for all the visits and comments you have left. I really, really do appreciate them all :-D

shirl said...

Lol Lisa... if something’s worth doing as they say… I was also thinking on the photo backgrounds and opportunities too :-D

I’ve a feeling I’ve read that the crab apples are popular here too. I don’t have any here. I wonder if you didn’t have the crab apples that they may take your apples.

Looking at images of your hackberry it looks like the fruit is quite small. Perhaps that’s the attraction for them. Interesting. Yes, food close during nesting is very gratefully received isn’t it?

Midmarsh John said...

Great video of the Blackcap enjoying the apple. I must try some apples higher up. Lovely to see you still have the Waxwings about and good luck with enticing them to your garden.

Shady Gardener said...

Oh my word! I've never seen that many cedar waxwings in one place!!! We may be fortunate enough to see five or six in the early Spring... :-) What a wonderful treat you enjoyed!

shirl said...

Hello John, Glad you enjoyed this video again. It would be interesting to see how higher up apples go down in your garden ;-)

Sometimes it can take a while for the birds to start eating them but once they do they can disappear pretty fast. Blackbirds have been feeding on my garland.

Thanks, I can hear that the Waxwings are still about and can see them in the mature trees of my videos but so far they’ve not made it down to my garden. It was seriously wishful thinking on my part :-)

shirl said...

Hi there Shady, this was a completely new sight for me also. Your Cedar Waxwings are quite stunning.

These ones were Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla-Garrulus) and perhaps that’s why we saw so many. Wonderfully, they are still around although they haven’t stopped by my garden… ah well :-D