In a flap over rare birds after sighting of 300 Bohemian Waxwings in Nottingham
RENOWNED as one of the best birds in Britain, it is not surprising that the sighting of 300 bohemian waxwings caused a stir when they descended on Notts.
Dozens of people, many with cameras, gathered in Chilwell on the corner of Ranson Road and Nottingham Road to catch a glimpse of the bird, which feasts on rowan berries and migrates to Britain when supplies in its native Scandinavia are low.
But although fewer rare birds have been spotted in the county this year than in previous years, the bohemian waxwing is not the only rare bird to arrive here. A Baird's sandpiper was seen in August at Idle Valley Nature Reserve – for just the second time in the the county.
Other birds seen are rough-legged buzzards, whiskered terns, green-winged teal and yellow-browed warblers, which breed in Siberia, Mongolia and north-eastern China.
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Neil Glenn, of Nottinghamshire Birdwatchers, said the latter is among the most fascinating of sightings this year.
"These birds were first spotted in a garden in Cropwell Butler and it's the sort of thing that makes people realise how great this migration thing is," he said.
"Hundreds of the birds have now been seen and I still can't get my head round the fact that a bird this size gets from China to a back garden in Notts.
"This was almost a mythical bird; there was no way you would see it in Britain and now there are thousands and we have no idea why they come here."
For other birds their reasons for migrating are more obvious. Last December a rough-legged buzzard, which originates from Scandinavia, was spotted on Gedling Pit Top, while a great white egret was recorded at Idle Valley Nature Reserve in June and again in September.
Mr Glenn said it is almost certain that these birds, along with the waxwings, have migrated out of necessity for food.
"The rough-legged buzzard follows food so if it gets snowy and they can't get any food in Scandinavia, then they move south and eat voles they can find on rough grassland," said Mr Glenn.
Other birds spotted in Notts during 2012 include a whiskered tern from southern Europe, seen at Annesley Pit Top by patch watcher Rob Hoare, and a great skua, seen at Idle Valley Nature Reserve.
Great skuas are seabirds and although they are common on the coast, they are rarely seen in Notts. Another surprise sighting was in May when a red-rumped swallow, which also originates from southern Europe, flew over a garden in Mansfield Woodhouse. Only four previous records of the bird exist in Notts.
A Richard's pipit also appeared at Annesley Pit Top when it should have been heading for India.
Despite the number of species spotted, Mr Glenn said it hasn't been the best year for Notts birdwatchers.
"But the sightings we've had are good and have been spread across the county," he added.
For more sightings of birds across Notts see www.nottsbirders.net.