Waxwing invasion in the North West

The waxwings are travelling through the North West before heading south Credit: Margaret Holland

Thousands of waxwings are invading the UK with the North West seeing a large proportion of the beautifully coloured birds.

More than 2,000 waxwings are estimated to have arrived from Scandinavia this month, landing in Scotland and then heading south.

Lancashire Wildlife Trust Reserves Officer for East Lancashire, Phil Dykes reported: “I have been watching waxwings feeding on the rowan in the centre of Barrow village. I am assuming that these will have been seen at various locations and it indicates that they are heading from mainland Europe looking for food in the UK.”

Mark Champion, the Trust’s Wigan project manager said: “It’s another waxwing year, two flocks of around 20 in Horwich and the other in Westleigh, so they are going to be common this winter. Overall we have seen about 100 in Bolton and the same in Orrell, near the Local Nature Reserve, and Wigan.

“Our new nature reserve Brockholes, near Preston, has a flock and they have been seen in Lancaster, Blackpool and Blackburn too.”

Waxwings are beautifully marked birds, about the size of starlings, with red crests, black throats and they look as if they are wearing black masks. They have yellow, red and white streaks on their wings and yellow tails. Mark said: “They are called waxwings because of a waxy feather in their forewings.”

Waxwings came over to the UK in 2010 in large numbers because of good breeding years when the population outstripped berries on trees. Last year was quiet for the birds but they are back this year feeding on berries and moving gradually south.

Experts say that the birds have arrived early so the numbers in the UK could reach more than 5,000 over winter.