Posts Tagged ‘Waxwing


A Waxed Wing

At the time of writing the influx of Waxwings that have invaded Scotland have not yet encroached in any number further South. Maybe the Northerlies forecast for the coming weekend will rectify that.

When we were on the North coast of Scotland last week, we came across a wonderful flock visiting berried bushes. Among them was a surprise male Blackcap and an even bigger surprise, a lumbering Northern Bullfinch. These bullfinches have a silver mantle and a trumpet like call. However, it was its size that took me quite aback. It was approaching the size of the Waxwings.



Waxwings have been far and few between this last winter. Last month a few were flying from place to place in Salthouse here on the coast. Now Salthouse is not a big place. In fact it’s decidedly small. You would think a half dozen showy birds sat in trees would be easy to track down. In reality they were but getting good views of them wasn’t as easy. Salthouse if full of inaccessible nooks and crannies; hidden places that it is easy to overlook. Tania and I were lucky enough to be asked by a couple if we would like to stand in ‘their’ garden. They were holidaying here. Apparently the Waxwings had taken up residence in a tree by the decking. We duly took position and were even offered a cup of tea. There are some kind and lovely people in the world.

We didn’t have to wait long for them to appear.





Some excellent bird tours in February. Around 6 trips into the Brecks and almost as many into the Broads. The tour on the day of storm Doris was a challenge to say the least, but we still managed a few things of interest. Here’s a compendium of photos of just a few birds we came across during the month.

bewicks-swan crane glaucous-gull goshawk great-grey-shrike hawfinch iceland-gull lesser-spotted-woodpecker mediterranean-gullrough-legged-buzzardsiskinsnow-buntingwaxwingwoodlark



Berry hunter

Tidying the garden here at Falcon Cottage on Sunday I was conscious of a sudden change in wind direction. The arrow on the weather vane swung around to the east for a while. Almost immediately there was a change in what was coming to the bird feeders.

A number of Greenfinch landed in the Sycamores at the top of the garden. A few Chaffinch among them. A pale Coal Tit among the Blues and Greats at the feeder. Coal Tits are not common here on the hill. As I walked to the compost heap I flushed a large flock of finches from the cotoneasters, crab apples, pyrocanthus and yews. Among them I heard a familiar call. A Waxwing. Frustratingly in the melee of finches I didn’t see it. However it wasn’t long before it returned. It was only when it visited a neighbour’s garden I managed to fire off a few shots.





We at last caught up with a Waxwing the other day. Not a host of them but an unusually single individual; a loner picking berries from a couple of bushes in the car park of a medical centre in Aylesham. I did hear another but couldn’t locate it. Unusually the bird was colour ringed. The first colour ringed Waxwing I have seen. Details were sent to the ringers. It was ringed as a first winter male on Great Southern Road in Aberdeen on the 28th December last year. It was last seen on the 23rd January on Scotstown Road, Bridge of Don in Aberdeen among a flock of 80 birds feeding on Ornamental Rowans. He’s supposed to be heading north in spring. I wonder where he thinks he’s going!



Just passing through

I spent a day or two last week feeding builders coffee. We’re having a window put in the gable end of the extension. The intention is for it to eventually overlook a pond so we can sit in the warm and stare out onto our own little bit of wild Norfolk. What seemed like an endless conveyor belt of cups to and from the garden at least gave me the opportunity of breaks from the laptop. It was on one of these breaks while standing back and admiring with the builders their work I heard a familiar distant call. It got louder and even before they came into view I called out “Waxwings”

This resulted in one or two quizzical looks and I had to explain that the sixteen birds that flew north west over the garden were Waxwings heading back north to their Scandinavian summering grounds. Their yellow tail tips were so obvious against the blue of he sky as they quickly moved through.

This is the second occurrence of Waxwings seen from the garden here at Falcon Cottage. One individual spent a few minutes examining the crab apple tree last November. Hopefully one or two more will visit for a while longer in years to come as the bank of Hawthorns, Pyracantha, Crab Apples and Cotoneasters I have planted mature and bear the red berries which Waxwings find irresistible.

The photo below was taken on a Birding Tour last month when we found a small flock on the coast.

Waxwing Norfolk_Z5A9958



Look and (maybe) you shall find

One thing I have always tried to do to when looking for wildlife is keep an open mind. I wish I had a pound for every time I have been told. “No, they don’t occur here!” Or “Naa I wouldn’t bother looking there”

I recently did a ferry crossing over the mouth of the St Lawrence in Canada. After an hour in a freshening northerly wind I saw something that looked like an auk cross the bow but it was shearing; fluttering and then gliding. The only small shearwaters that get seen in that area are apparently Manx and the odd Audubon’s. It was a Barolo Shearwater which should have been more at home in European waters. Who can blame the Canadian birders we met from giving me the inquisition. I found out subsequently several Barolos were seen around that time in Canadian Waters.

I went to Iceland in February to photograph Orcas. As we travelled out through the fjord we sailed through a flock of Red throated Divers. I saw a Black throated Diver among them. As they all got off the water the Black throated flew over the boat – I checked it thoroughly looking for the vent strap of a Pacific Diver – it seemed like the logical thing to do – but alas it was only a Black throated. Two days later, on return to the UK, I sent off my records to the Icelandic Bird Recorder only to have an email ping back at me to say it was a first for Iceland – I hadn’t appreciated Black throated Diver’s status in Iceland (I do now) – he shot up the island to try and relocate it!

What I’m trying to say in my naive way is it’s easy to make presumptions … but until you get out and look you never know what you might find.

I’ve just finished planting a shed load of berried trees and bushes here at Falcon Cottage in an attempt to bring in a Waxwing to the garden in a future winter. When you’re not out looking it pays to have things looking for you!

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Feb 2023


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