Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

Last Minute Bird Bargains?

UK Christmas shoppers urged to lookout for colourful Waxwings while spotting the bargains

With two shopping days left until Christmas, the RSPB and BTO are urging last-minute shoppers to look out for Waxwings - colourful starling-sized birds have arrived in Britain from Scandinavia and Russia. They are most likely to be seen by Christmas shoppers because the berry-feasting birds are often attracted to the shrubbery bordering supermarkets and retail parks! According to a survey carried out by the RSPB, last winter the birds were most often sighted at Sainsbury`s and Tescos` stores. McDonalds, Morrisons, Safeway, B&Q stores, Asda, Co-op, Focus DIY, Homebase and Pizza Hut all occurred in the top ten most popular retail locations for the birds last winter.Since October, birdwatchers have been documenting the arrival of Waxwings on BirdTrack, the online bird recording system. Waxwings have arrived in their hundreds in Scotland and along the east coast, with a flock of over 1800 birds in Aberdeen! Having devoured the berries in the east, hungry flocks are moving westwards looking for suitable bushes. Waxwings are striking birds, with red waxy tips on their wings giving them their unusual name. Bird experts in Scandinavia have reported a very successful Waxwing nesting season, leading to large numbers heading for Britain and Ireland in search of food. You can help track the movements of Waxwings by reporting your sightings to BirdTrack http://www.BirdTrack.net Registering is free.Dawn Balmer, BTO co-ordinator of the BirdTrack recording scheme, said: Supermarket car parks and out-of-town shopping centres are not normally renowned as great wildlife sites. But visitors to these usually unpromising retail locations can add a great deal of information to our understanding about the movements of these colourful birds.

Grahame Madge, of the RSPB, said: If you hate Christmas shopping as much as I do, the prospect of recording a flock of Waxwings can provide just enough of an incentive for you to confront your worst nightmare!A team of licensed bird ringers in Aberdeen have been catching Waxwings and fitting colour-rings to their legs over the last few weeks, as part of a long-term study on the species. So far, they have ringed over 250 birds and this has produced some remarkable records showing how far and how fast Waxwings can move around the country. Within the first ten days after ringing in Aberdeen one Waxwing was sighted 135 kilometres away at Freuchie, in Fife and, incredibly, one went to the island of West-Terschelling, off the coast of the Netherlands.

Dawn Balmer added: It is amazing that two birds from the same flock dispersed in completely different directions! Since then, Waxwings colour-ringed in Aberdeen have been spotted in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Lancashire, Derbyshire, Sheffield and Macclesfield.

Birdwatchers are requested to look carefully for colour-ringed Waxwings amongst the flocks of birds. If you see a colour-ringed Waxwing make a note of the exact colour combination and which leg the rings are on. You can submit your record to ringing@bto.org or enter the details online at http://www.bto.orgNumber of sites from which Waxwings were recorded.

Sainsburys 7 stores
Tesco 7 stores
McDonalds 5 stores
Morrisons/Safeway 5 stores
B&Q 4 stores
Asda 3 stores
Co-op 2 stores
Focus DIY 2 stores
Homebase 2 stores
Pizza Hut 2 stores
Aldi 1 store
Allders 1 store
Halfords 1 store
Iceland 1 store
Kwiksave 1 store
Jewsons 1 store
Makro 1 store
PC World 1 store
TJ Hughes 1 store

Number of Waxwings recorded on each company`s premises*

Pizza Hut 222 birds
Sainsburys 202 birds
Tesco 193 birds
McDonalds 163 birds
Allders 100 birds
Safeway/Morrisons 96 birds
Asda 62 birds
Homebase 42 birds
Kwiksave 35 birds
B&Q 35 birds
Co-op 31 birds
Halfords 20 birds
PC World 20 birds
Aldi 11 birds
Jewsons 10 birds
Focus DIY 6 birds
Iceland 6 birds
Makro 6 birds
TJ Hughes 5 birds

*the totals in List 2 are less than the total number counted because some were reported outside more than one store.

4th July 2014