Many people are reporting a strange and amazing-looking exotic bird in the gardens and parks of Wicklow. However, if you see one, or a flock of them, there’s no need to report it to the zoo as this species, the Bohemian Waxwing, is one of our winter migrants and arrives in both Britain and Ireland when there is severe cold weather on the continent. I first saw a flock of fourteen of these birds in late February 2002, but only today managed to get my first photo of one. Unfortunately the light was very poor, but here in all it’s glory is one of three spectacularly beautiful Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) I saw today, foraging in Newcastle village.
The Bohemian Waxwing is actually a northern species, found across Scandinavia and Siberia, and in North America too. It feeds almost exclusively on berries, which is why it is especially fond of gardens and parks, where shrubs are grown. I think this just proves nature is the greatest show on earth, and it’s completely free.
Spring is in full swing in Wicklow, although we’ve had some dodgy and disappointing weather, but April showers have brought May flowers in abundance. The landscape is lush and beautiful from the mountains down to the sea.
The landscape of the foothills and coastal plain of Wicklow as seen from Kilmurray, above the town of Newtown Mount Kennedy this weekend.
Wicklow has a huge amount of trees, as you’ll notice from the photo, and the hedgerows combined with the hills and myriad valleys combine to create a jungle-like atmosphere as you drive on some of the narrower roads. The road pictured is not one of these roads, being about twice as wide as some of them.
The rain and sun of late April and early May have fed the blooms which in turn have brought out the spring butterflies. For the duration of May you will spot the beautiful little Orange-Tip butterfly on the roads and lanes all around Wicklow. The female looks like a smallish white butterfly, and easily confused with a number of species, but the male is unmistakeable due to the orange wing-tips that give this butterfly its name.
A male Orange-tip can't be mistaken for anything else.
However, although it’s extremely easy to spot Orange-tips in flight, it’s very difficult to spot them when they’re perched, as the undersides of their wings are brilliantly camouflaged.
This male hides carefully in plain sight - but the female looks identical when her wings are folded.