Another large flock of Waxwings has appeared in the Peterborough area and once again I found myself camped by some Rowan trees waiting for these 'trillers' to come and feed so I could take yet more photos. The birds have descended upon an area very close to my house in the village of Werrington, the same area that a flock of up to 140 appeared in the last mass irruption year of 2010/11 and an area quite close to a busy road.
There I was, waiting patiently when a couple of other birders arrived. This couple then noticed a dead bird on the side of the road that I had not seen, which turned out to be a Waxwing. Very sad, to come all this way and be hit by a car. It did, however give us a chance to see the bird 'up close', marvelling at the plumage and of course, the red 'wax' tips of the secondary feathers that give the bird its' name.
Brian Stone arrived and we both looked at the bird, trying to see if we could sex or age it, but we couldn't. On return to his office Brian e-mailed me a link which showed the differences in the sex and age of the Waxwing. Click HERE if you wish to look at this link yourself (this has photos of live Waxwings, so nothing nasty). After perusal of this link I have come to the conclusion that the bird was a juvenile male bird, judging from the lack of yellow on the outer web of the primary feathers and the number of red 'wax' tips being five with the longest being 5.5mm. The birds' markings under the throat had a diffuse edge, but that is surely due to it being a juvenile, although I am not sure.
Below are some photos of the bird, showing some of the markings that I have explained above. WARNING, these are of a dead bird, although the bird is not deformed or marked in any way, it is dead, so please do not view if you are offended.
|Showing how small the bird is, smaller than a Starling. The ruler is 15 cm or 6 inches long.|
|Showing the diffuse edge of the black 'bib' under the throat.|
|The red 'wax' tips on the secondary feathers with the tips of the outer webs of the primary feathers being yellowish-white and no markings on the inner webs.|
|The head of the bird, showing the slight diffuse nature of the black 'bib'.|