Twitchers flock to Bedfordshire housing estate as rare waxwings 'go viral'

The bird watchers have descended on a quiet close in Bedfordshire in pursuit of a pair of waxwings Credit: ITV Anglia

Crowds of birdwatchers have descended on a quiet estate after a pair of waxwings were spotted in a garden.

Neighbours living in the close at Cranfield in Bedfordshire said the gang of twitchers arrived on Saturday and told them they could be in the area all week.

Jo Hoad and her husband Colin first noticed the birds in their crabapple tree during the January cold snap.

They had no idea how rare the waxwings were until one of the birdwatchers told them there are only six pairs in the UK.

Mrs Hoad said: "We didn't realise how amazing and how rare it is but have loved being able to watch them and see what they do up close."

Jo Hoad looking out of her window at the birdwatchers Credit: ITV Anglia

"It's very strange looking out of your window and seeing 20 or 30 people with cameras and binoculars all standing staring at your house."

Mrs Hoad said up to 30 different birdwatchers had been looking for the waxwings and they told her they were likely to be there for days because the story had "gone viral" in the birding community.

The waxwing feeding on Mrs Hoad's crabapple tree in January Credit: Jo Hoad

Mrs Hoad, who runs a driver training business with her husband, said: "The irony is that they've scared off the birds.  Even the blackbirds won't feed with them there."  

She said the bird watchers were quiet and pleasant but the amount of parked cars up the road was a concern.

Mrs Hoad said: "One suggestion made to us this morning, was - 'I guess it's intimidating having us all staring at your house, maybe you might like to pull your curtains?'  My husband replied, 'but then we wouldn't be able to look at the birds would we!'"

One of the waxwings tucks into crabapples on Mrs Hoad's tree Credit: Jo Hoad

Birdwatcher Jim Ward said he had seen the birds yesterday and returned to get another look.

He said: "They are quite exotic birds. I came yesterday to get a few shots but the light's better today so I came back to get a few more."

Alexander Beilby said: "When you think of bird watching you think of nature reserves but the ornamental berry trees are actually quite popular in car parks and urban areas so I guess if the food is there the birds will turn up for the food."

The RSPB says waxwings do not breed in the UK, but visit in winter from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.

In some years they can visit in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population on their breeding grounds gets too big for the food available.

Birdwatchers waiting for the waxwings to make an appearance in Cranfield Credit: ITV Anglia

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