Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Waxwing Lyrical

It's been over a month since we moved to our new patch and I'm embarrassed to say that before today I hadn't yet done any exploring, despite the open countryside being right outside our back door.
This is partly because there's such a lot to do, both in the new house and with work (a lot to catch up on as it's been neglected for a while due to the on-off nature of our house move), and partly because I just don't like the cold (in fact mainly because I just don't like the cold). :-/

'Til now I've satisfied my nature-lust by just window-watching. My new 'ahem' office overlooks the bottom end of the Lower Derwent Valley (that's the view in the header) and I've been introducing myself to the local avifauna that way, gawping out the window in between chores or during work-breaks and have thus far built up a steady house list of 44 species, but more on that another time.

Yesterday morning a Tweet from Rob (Gateshead and Beyond) about a 'jingle' of 15 Waxwings on Whickham bank played on my mind all day. Unable to get along I was left wondering how I missed them as I'm always looking out as we pass there every morning on the school run, and it was a bright calm and crisp day as well, ideal for photos. :-(

Then this morning was cold, wet and windy, but this time on the school run I detected 10 or so Waxys atop the tall tree next to the berry laden one as we passed. When back at home the weather worsened and I had to stay in to await a delivery anyway, so left it at that.

Early afternoon and I read Ron's blog (Notmanywords) whereby he'd also seen Rob's tweet yesterday and went along to get his usual cracking photos of the Waxwings, which I have to say made me quite restless, but looking at the shitty weather I didn't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing that I couldn't get out. But by 2pm the delivery had arrived, and another tweet from Rob said there were 37 Waxys at the site right now, I had to go !!

Outside and the weather was still pretty awful, a damp and dingy atmosphere, chill exacerbated by the wind, but no rain so off I went; and taking the track over the road at the back of the house for the first time I couldn't believe it when it came out on Whickham Bank right where the Waxwings are, and it took me less than 10 minutes. :-O
The Waxys were also there, at first flying around in a loose formation, trying to land on the berry tree but immediately warded off by three local Blackbirds and a Mistle Thrush. I took a flight photo just in case so was able to establish there were now 39 in the 'jingle', and eventually persistence paid off for some as a small group landed in the upper branches of the tree for a meal.

Awful conditions for photos but I played around until I got a few half-decent snaps hoping they'd brighten up in Photoshop, then put the camera away and just watched them go about their business for a while.

Dull day, bright birds.

This shot was my best I think

Here they come, all 39 in the shot. 

When they next all took to the skies I headed home before school came out, but it was great to see them, great to hear that trilling call, and great birds to get on my first venture. Just can't get enough of Waxwings, so a happy lad was I :-)