Rare visitors drawing flocks of eager ornithologists to supermarket car
By Terri Judd
20 January 2003
Waxwings, normally rare visitors to Britain, are arriving in
supermarket car parks and becoming a focal point for birdwatchers.
The birds, which fly here in search of food from Scandinavia and
Siberia, feed in flocks on the ornamental berry bushes that surround
some out-of-town stores. Their presence has attracted "twitchers", who
gather in the unlikely spots to watch the birds, which have
pinkish-brown plumage, red and yellow wing markings and red-based
More than 1,000 waxwings, which have a soft trilling call, have arrived
There have been sightings at Tesco stores in Suffolk and
Cambridgeshire, an Asda in Durham and a Morrisons store in Hull.
Reports yesterday included 35 birds in Cramlington, Northumberland, 30
in Beverley, East Yorkshire and 15 in Colchester, Essex.
Over the past few years there has been an exceptional number of
waxwings, which mainly feed on rowanberries in their native habitat,
seeking food in the UK. Ornithologists say the birds choose
supermarkets for the hawthorn or cotoneaster berries that grow in their
Russell Slack, editor of the BirdGuides website, which monitors bird
sightings, said: "Waxwings are awesome consumers of berries. A single
bird can eat up to 1,000 a day."
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