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Birdwatchers head to station: Can you spot the Euston waxwing?

'I think about 30 to 50 people a day could be coming to see the waxwing'

31 January, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

The waxwing bird enjoys a meal above busy roads in Euston [Photo: Tim Blackburn]

ON a street corner near busy Euston railway station, dozens of people are gathering every day with their necks craned towards the sky.

Residents in Doric Way were curious to see what was going on this week amid a gathering of people outside their homes.

But kitted out with their binoculars and long lens cameras, it turns out avid birdwatchers have left ponds, forests, parks and heath are on the lookout for a special breed that has made the unlikely road its home.

Their goal: spotting the waxwing – a small plump bird which only graces Britain in the winter from Europe to feast on food, particularly their favourite rowan berries.

Actor Samuel West posted his picture of the distinctive bird on Twitter, labelling its crest a “Reverse Trump” in a nod to US President Donald Trump’s hair.

“It’s been very interesting, we wondered at first what it was all about,” said 74-year-old Peter Kuypers, who lives in Doric Way.

“As we look out of our window across the other side of the road we could see people with long lenses and binoculars looking at the trees, so I went and spoke to them. I’ve seen the bird a few times this morning – it’s created a bit of interest and excitement, especially with people walking by. People are stopping, asking what’s going on.”

Richard and Sharon Whittington were on their way to Queen’s Park from York when they were alerted online that a waxwing had made Euston its temporary home.

“They usually love car parks,” said Mr Whittington. “Like a Tesco or B&Q they’ve been seen in before.”

Staring up at the bird as it landed on a tree outside the housing estate, Ms Whittington said: “It’s hard to explain the feeling when you see a bird like that. I’ve been married to my husband 42 years and he always was interested in birdwatching, so I’ve become interested too. It’s like osmosis.”

On Monday, Chris Barnes was trying for the second time to see the bird, after no luck last Thursday.

Popping up to Euston on his lunch break, Mr Barnes said: “I’ve been interested in birds since I was about eight years old when I saw a Hoopoe [a colourful bird found in Afro-Eurasia]. I was sat in someone’s garden while helping my dad on a milk round when I saw it – it was amazing. I’ve sat out for 24 hours for a bird before now.

“I think about 30 to 50 people a day could be coming to see the waxwing.”

Chris Barnes searches for the waxwing bird in Doric Way, near Euston Station, with Richard and Sharon Whittington

Tim Blackburn, a professor at University College London, took detailed pictures of the bird when he spotted it last week.

He said: “Some birds are seen most years in the London area, but the one at Euston was unusually close to the city centre. In winter, waxwings feed on berries, and are often very tolerant of people, so they can be quite photogenic.”

When the weather begins to warm up, the waxwing will make its journey back to Europe, but until then, the residential street will be its winter holiday home.


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