Sunday, 9 January 2011

Sunday 9th. January 2011

What a horrible week that was !
Monday , still full of a stinking cold , dark enough to herald the end of the world .
Tuesday and Wednesday , your's truly went working up on the Greensand Ridge , which did no favours to the cold situation .
Thursday , work on the Common cancelled because of the non stop rain .
Friday , yet more rain , but with hedgelaying looming on Saturday , tried desperately to shake off the cold .
Saturday , made the hedgelaying , but coughed all the day , and got another soaking .
The only thing that has got me through the week , was reading the numbers of Waxwings that were on the Research Centre site , on Adam's blog - East Malling , Ditton and Barming , and the fact that the forecast ? for Sunday was cold and sunny , the first day like that for ages .
I must admit that my heart sunk , when I read Adam's Saturday post , no Waxwings seen today .
In the words of another 'South Londoner' , ' who dares wins' , I was up before six , and pulling out of the drive whilst it was still dark , heading for East Malling , I hadn't been out birding for a week , and I needed to be out . Adam was good enough to let me know that he was hoping to be on site this morning , so all was not lost .
I arrived just before 8 o'clock and parked by the church . The first orchards , behind the churchyard and up to where the footpath meets the road contained good numbers of Fieldfares and Blackbirds , but nothing more . As I approached the sign that Adam posted on his last blog , the Silver Birch held no birds at all , never mind a few Waxwings dropping down to feed on the Guelder Rose berries below . But , further towards the Research buildings , four birds perched high in another Silver Birch , once sighted through binoculars , proved to be my elusive quarry .
I reached for the camera , even though still some distance away , only to hear a 'trill' and the quartet took flight and were out of sight in a matter of seconds . I dejectedly looked around the other places that Adam had mentioned , and found nothing . Walking back towards the Corner Orchard , my prayers were answered , when a car slowed , the window came down , and the driver asked , 'Greenie ? ' . Adam parked up , and within minutes , it was like chatting with an old mate , an old mate that could get us into places that us mere mortals , would have to look in from afar . I mentioned the earlier sighting , and soon after , Waxwings were seen in the original Silver Birch . We made our way , getting the sun behind us , to the tree , to find nothing . A look across the Corner Orchard once again produced lots of Winter Thrushes and the odd Brambling .
Having seen the Waxwings landing twice in the same Silver Birch , we decided to stake it out and wait for them to come to us . Eventually , a large flock of birds laded in the tree , and as I looked through them , all I saw was Fieldfares , when Adam said 'what about those three up top ?' . I got the binoculars on the threesome , almost choked on the cough sweet that I was sucking , and started the shutter clicking . In the early morning light , the three Waxwings looked absolutely superb , and I was well pleased that I had cleaned the card last night , given the number of shutter operations . They must have posed for about 3/4 minutes , when , once again , a short trill , and off they flew . Adam managed to keep them in sight , and saw them coming down at the rear of the Corner Orchard , and that was where we headed . It took some time , but eventually Adam spotted one on a post , which then flew down as if to feed . Once again , we got the sun behind us , then Adam very kindly let me go ahead to hopefully get some close shots . I slowly made my way between the rows , and to be honest , thought that they had flown , when almost at the end of the row , found two feeding on the apples . Not the greatest of shots , but the one on the right was a bit nervous , and I dare not get any closer . It proved right , as it flew off after just a couple of shots , but I managed to get closer to the bird that remained . Ideally , the shadow could have been elsewhere , but it's probably the closest I'll ever get to one of these fabulous birds . Soon after , all the Winter Thrushes lifted off , and the Waxwing joined them . A couple of minutes later , a Sparrowhawk , spotted by Adam , came at speed between the rows of trees , and overhead . By the time I got on to it , I managed another of my trademake 'rear-end' shots . I think Adam managed a couple of much better shots . I know I said I wouldn't post any more Redwing shots , but that light today was perfect , so just one more , and to go with it , one of the Fieldfares , this one , I managed to get to within 10 metres of , before it flew . I said before that we had a few Brambling sightings , mostly amongst the Winter Thrushes , but the only shot I managed of one was a long distance shot along Adam's seeded track .
I know full well that without Adam's kind help and excellent spotting ability , I would have probably come home with maybe a very long distance Waxwing shot , but instead , I need another rainy day to process the near 200 shots taken .
Adam , it might have been just 3/4 Waxwings , compared to the 60/70 that were around during the week , but it was a magical morning for me , made even better for meeting another fellow Blogger , thank you very much for your time .
I toyed briefly with stopping at Mote Park or New Hythe on the way home , but being a Sunday , quickly thought better of the idea . I did stop at Sevenoaks Reserve , once again should have thought that one through too , as it was full of young children screaming all over the place . I'll write that one up in the next couple of days .


Kingsdowner said...

Hope you didn't pass on your long-running cold!
We'll remember these waxwings for many years, I think.

Phil said...

Hi Greenie. While you were at the Research centre you should have got them to research that cold of yours, obviously a new and even more debilitating strain than ever before seen!
Glad you caught up with the rightly famous Waxwings and rightly famous Adam Whitehouse.
Hope you are soon back to full working order. Went to Shoreham today only to have a run in with a man with a gun, screaming kids, packs of dogs etc. Why do the sunny days always come on sundays?

Adam said...

Nice one Greenie - glad to catch up with you at last and some of the birds decided to play game! I'll write up my post from the day soon, preoccupied with the in-laws at present!

Up the Villa


Simon said...

Pleased your feeling a bit better Greenie. I like the photo of the 3 Waxwings at the top of the tree, lovely light! I popped to Bedgebury Sunday to see the roosting Hawfinches, there were lots of screaming kids there too.