This season is thought to be the best ‘waxwing winter’ for a decade. Years without waxwings visiting Britain are known as ‘blank’ winters. 
All Rights Reserved: RKP PhotographyThis season is thought to be the best ‘waxwing winter’ for a decade. Years without waxwings visiting Britain are known as ‘blank’ winters. 
All Rights Reserved: RKP Photography
This season is thought to be the best ‘waxwing winter’ for a decade. Years without waxwings visiting Britain are known as ‘blank’ winters. All Rights Reserved: RKP Photography

Waxwing sightings: Where to see hundreds of rare birds as flock sets up home in the Derbyshire Peak District

A flock of 350 waxwings have gathered to feast on hawthorn berries at Hassop Station on the Monsal Trail near Bakewell.

Significant numbers of the birds, visitors from Scandinavia and Russia are being reported this winter across the country. The birds visit to feed when food is in short supply on the continent.

Mark Cocker, an author and naturalist, based in Derbyshire who writes for the Guardian's Country Diary, said the congregation on the Monsal Trail is among the largest flocks ever recorded in the county.

He added: “I have waited half a century to see even a group involving three figures but the sight and experience of these hundreds is nothing short of wondrous.”

Mark said the birds feed almost exclusively on fruit and are eating the Hawthorn berries, which are in abundance in the area.

"Hundreds and hundreds of people have been to see them and have enjoyed the waxwings. They are a very tame bird and have no fear of people,” added Mark.

The Derbyshire Ornithological Society has produced a map which shows all waxwing records received during December. This represents 64 sites from 229 individual records, and shows what an amazing year for the species this has been.

Steve Thorpe, Secretary of The Derbyshire Ornithological Society said: “DOS is primarily focussed on records, particularly in support of conservation efforts, so we are able to quickly produce this type of output to explain patterns and behaviours.

"These waxwings at Hassop are currently around 350 strong, the Derbyshire record is 400 which was recorded in December 1970, so we are watching the number closely to see if we can beat the record this year!”

The waxwing is described as a "plump bird" which is slightly smaller than a starling.

It is known for its prominent crest and does not breed in the UK but is a winter visitor.

This season is thought to be the best ‘waxwing winter’ for a decade. Years without waxwings visiting Britain are known as ‘blank’ winters.

These stunning images have been captured by Rod Kirkpatrick of RKP Photography.

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