Visit of Rare Birds Attracts Hundreds of Enthusiasts to City
The arrival of a flock of overwintering waxwings to the city in the weeks before Christmas attracted bird enthusiasts from far and wide including television naturalist, Iolo Williams.
Armed with cameras and binoculars the crowds grew and the word spread that these beautiful but relatively rare visitors to the area were taking full advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to feed on the berries of the rowans and hawthorns in our city.
Usually only seen along the Eastern side of Britain the waxwing is a plump bird, slightly smaller than a starling with a prominent crest. It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a yellow-tipped tail. It does not breed in the UK, but is a winter visitor, in some years in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population in its Scandinavian breeding grounds gets too big for the food available.
But the beautiful waxwings were eclipsed by the arrival of a rare black-throated thrush bringing even more ‘birders’ to see yet another rare visitor to our shores.
The breeding range of the black-throated thrush extends from the extreme east of Europe to Western Siberia and north west Mongolia. Their wintering range extends from the Middle East to eastern Burma and sometimes in the Arabian peninsular. As a vagrant it has occurred in Japan, Thailand and Taiwan.
For weeks hundreds of bird watchers from all over the country descended on St. Asaph and spent many hours tracking both the waxwings and the elusive black-throated thrush, logging their sightings on the internet and collecting photographs.
Many of the human invaders travelled the length and breadth of the country to track the feathered variety and were delighted to add two new species to their impressive lists of birds seen