I guess I stand a better chance of seeing a waxwing in my garden during Big Garden Birdwatch this year than any year for ages - but I'm not holding my breath. 

However, in this 'waxwing winter' I am sure that many more of us (even if it won't be me) will see these attractive birds this year. Have a look at the Birdtrack graph to see how much commoner they are this year.

There have been some lucky folk in previous years and below are two maps for 2008 and 2010 BGBWs.  I'd be surprised if the sightings aren't quite a bit more widespread and more numerous this year - but we'll see!  That's the thing about birds - they are their own masters and we are mere observers of their behaviours.

Anonymous
  • Looking at the map and seeing Wiltshire is a light green I am still surprised that any were seen in gardens.  All the ones I have seen have been by factories, near shops and near main roads; those that have been on housing estates have been on the small bushes that developers put in to brighten streets up.   Perhaps I shall have to start growing a few berry bushes.

  • Squirrel- welcome! I'm really glad you saw some waxwings and they are beautiful birds. But then - what birds aren't?

  • Just passing through Eastleigh in Hampshire and stopped in traffic outside the Ambulance Station.

    In the bush next to the pavement were four birds that I and my wife had never seen before. Very colourful and feeding on berries.

    Got home & checked & found them to be waxwings.

    So they are as far south as Hampshire.

    Great birds to see close up.

  • I saw my first ever WWs about a month ago.  I'd been looking in the far flung places of the UK that I end up, but finally got them 200 yds from where I live as I walked down to the shops.  There were about a dozen all over this one particular, quite small, bush, and quite tame.  I was so excited I had to go back with the binos - much to my wife's horror.  She thought I would end up at the police station as a peeping tom.  I was smiling like a loony all day - still makes me smile now.

    The next day, the bush was empty, and the WWs gone.  Such beautiful birds.  And unmistakable too.

  • Whether one may see waxwings in one's garden seems to depend a fair amount on whether one has a bush/tree that still has berries on it and whether they are the right sort of berries. For waxwings clearly berries from mountain ashes and their hybrids, typically, in shopping centres, are their favourite food but hawthorn berries also seem to be taken, and sometimes, apples as well I understand. I have some cotoneaster bushes in the garden which always have good crops of berries but the birds, typically blackbirds, fieldfares, thrushes and redwings, clearly prefer the berries from one bush to the other. The berries on one of the bushes go quite quickly where as on the other, very similar bush, they go only slowly and some are often left at the end of the winter. The rose hips and haws seem to be taken only as a last resort. I guess it raises the question whether birds have a sense of taste? As they have no teeth now, (although being evolved from therepod dinosaurs, they used to), they swallow there food straight down so one assumes they may not have a sense of taste, so what causes them to prefer one type of berry from another I wonder?