I have a love-hate relationship with Waxwings. I love the bird, their intricate, vibrant colours, their heavy eighties eye shadow & punk hair-do. I hate that whenever you try to see them you invariably end up looking like a tool, hanging around with a camera and/or binoculars in a supermarket car park or train station! 

True to form 25 Waxwings turned up today in a car park between Aldi & Wetherby Whaler (the original Harry Ramsden’s chip shop ) at White Cross, Guisely. To top this rather conspicuous location, I arrived just as the local comprehensive pupils swarmed to the chippy for lunch. Usually, the ridicule I endure when venturing out with a camera is limited to my inner monologue, on this occasion though some of the schoolboys were only too happy to chip in!

Anyone who’s encountered these striking Scandinavian birds before will be used to seeing their aerial raids on winterberry trees and shrubs. So it felt unfamiliar to observe them break from this trend in the supermarket car park.

February has seen record-breaking weather with parts of the UK exceeding 20°c. This has led to trees in bud and bloom and insects becoming much more active. It was these tree buds and insects that were getting all the attention from the twenty-five stunners. Most of the flock ( or an Earful / Museum)  seemed to stick to the buds with the odd bird flying in an arc as it spotted a flying insect. A behaviour seemed not unlike that of a flycatcher, returning to the same or close to the branch it departed from. My attention was momentarily drawn from the Waxwings as two Oyster Catchers flew overhead and landed on the roof of an industrial warehouse. A classic, modern nesting ground these waders.

While such observations in the short term are a genuine thrill, the unseasonal and unusualness of it all, at the very least raises a plethora of questions. As I write, two Magpies have begun to nest in the bare tree opposite our Velux window. While the warmer weather may encourage some wildlife to breed and/or migrate earlier, the effect of a sudden cold snap, must be a genuine concern. On the other hand, if the milder weather continues some wildlife could see a considerable boost in their numbers. As the global climate continues to rise and localised weather continues to defy records, for good or bad we are unequivocally in unchartered waters.

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