Waxwing at Rainham

Friday 27th January.

I spent a little while in the morning photographing our resident first-winter male Waxwing at Rainham, which performed well daily for a total of 13 days by the visitor centre. Oddly it wasn't joined by any other birds and moved off overnight along with most of the thrushes after a change in the weather.

The main feature which indicates it as a first-winter (2cy) bird are the pale lines on the primary tips which form an unbroken 'line' along the wing (on an adult there would be hooks on each primary tip forming 'V's), combined with the general duller appearance. Although it does display some early adult features (darker primaries and advanced head), the primary tips are enough to conclusively age it as a 1w. Features which indicate it as a male include the number of waxy tips (juvenile males generally have between 4-8 with juvenile females having between 0-6 (Svensson, 1992)), neat and sharp throat patch (with females having more of a diffuse border between their throat patch and breast), and depth of the yellow tail band (which wouldn't be as thick on a female).

It wasn't just the Waxwing enjoying Howard's juicy fruit; Blackbirds, Starlings and Fieldfares were utilising the food source too!

After a successful early atfernoon Pine Bunting twitch in Kent (more on that in a separate post), we briefly twitched c.15 Waxwings from the car while driving through Lakeside on the way home.

Happy birding,