Waxwings continued to attract the attention of pre-Christmas shoppers, and so long as berries remain will doubtless provide a welcome diversion for those tackling the high street sales this week. Waxwings get their Welsh name, Cynffon Sidan, from the silky appearance of their tail, and appropriately the closest relatives to these northern hemisphere birds are Silky Flycatchers from Central America. Their English name is derived from bright red extensions to the secondary feathers, displayed by both Bohemian Waxwings (to use the full name of our visitors) and by Cedar Waxwings that breed in North America. The red tips not only look like blobs of candle wax, they feel slightly waxy too. The length and number of waxy tips on the wings increase as the birds age.
Up to 50 Waxwings were around Aldi in Ruthin and 17 at B&M in Mold on Christmas Eve, with more than 30 on the outskirts of Rhuddlan and 14 in Old Colwyn on Saturday. A flock of 13 was in an Abergele garden last week, 10 in Tywyn on the Meirionnydd coast and others reported in Ty’n-y-groes in the Conwy Valley.
If you’re keen to get outside this week, recent sightings include a Cattle Egret at Greenfield, Firecrests at Morfa Aber and The Spinnies, a Twite among Linnets at Point of Ayr, and Whooper Swans in the Cefni Valley and from Porthmadog Cob. Nine Long-tailed Ducks are off Black Rock Sands, with others off Benllech and on Llyn Maelog. Great White Egrets were off Porthmadog Cob and near Saltney, and up to four Great Northern Divers on Anglesey’s Inland Sea.
There may be plenty of winter still to come, but Song Thrushes have started to sing as days lengthen, and I’ve noticed a few Fulmars checking out potential nest sites on cliffs and Rooks gathering at their communal colonies.
A weekly update of bird sightings and news from North Wales, published in The Daily Post every Thursday.