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A group of these beautiful birds spent today feeding on mistletoe berries in an old cider orchard in Bathpool, just outside Taunton.

I had not seen a Waxwing before, so today was very exciting, particularly as the light was so good and there was the possibility of a good photograph. Waxwings in Somerset are, I think, a very rare event as the few that do make it across the North Sea are usually to be found along the east coast from East Anglia up to Scotland. For them to be this far west may well be due to the poor berry crop this winter. There normal diet when they are here is rowan, hawthorn, cotoneaster and rose. They may have been on the mistletoe because they couldn’t find anything more palatable.

According to the RSPB, birds that arrive in the UK are usually from Scandinavia and arctic Russia where they breed in spruce and pine trees of the Taiga. In winter, when their summer food of insects has gone, they rely on berries, and their winter distribution depends largely on the berry crops close to their breeding areas. In most years when local crops are good, they will move south and west, but not too far from the breeding areas, and only a small number will be seen in Britain. In poor berry years, large numbers of birds may move considerable distances and this is when we receive an influx in Britain.

It was so nice to be out in the sun again after so much rain.


Author: Hares on the Hill

I am a designer and photographer. I live with my wife and our two dogs in the Welsh Marches, a land full of history, legends, mountains, rivers and dragon's breath; a place where animism thrives. To our north are the Cambrian Mountains, the Elenydd, a vast plateau so ancient that its mountains now have the appearance of steeply rounded moorland hills; to the east is England; to the south stand the Black Mountains and in the west the Brecon Beacons rise around the twin summits of Pen y Fan and Corn Du, the highest mountain in West Wales.

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