Friday, December 17, 2010

Winter Wonderland

Female Brambling
It seems to me that every blog I log onto at the moment has great reports of Waxwings showing up in every corner of the county. But what do we know of this fantastic visitor, folk lore has it that the Waxwing is a harbinger of doom! Do they really foretell a harsh winter to come, looking out the window at the moment you might have to agree, as winter has returned to Wigram's with a vengeance!

The last major influx of waxwings to the UK was in 2004-2005 although there was a reasonable number recorded during the winter of 2008. With so many reports now coming in from around the country the signs are that this will be an exceptionally good year for Waxwings, possibly even the best ever? The real reason is probably down to the fact that there has been a bad crop of berries this year in Scandinavia which is driving the birds across the North Sea to the UK, plus unusually prolonged periods of north and north-easterly winds may also have a bearing. Who cares anyway, you can simply never get fed up of seeing this cracking winter visitor.

In fact today whilst taking my usual Friday walk around the locality I've come across another 5 Waxwing which graced the marina this afternoon feeding on the few remaining Hawthorn berries. Two female Brambling were also on the feeders and my first wintering Blackcap was also spotted in amongst several Tree Sparrow. Two Yellowhammer and plenty of Fieldfare, which I always think look stunning against a snowy background were also on site. Redwing, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Pied Wagtail were also noted along with a very distant fly past of a single Little Egret.

However, the bird of the day for me was a surprise visitor to an adjacent field and popped in when I was looking for a small flock of Golden Plover I'd spotted this morning coming in. My first Short Eared Owl on the patch spent a good 15-minutes quartering before actually finding prey and then heading off in the direction of Napton Reservoir!

This has ended another good birding week as my Tuesday visit to Brandon Marsh produced yet another look at two Bittern on West Marsh and views of Short Eared Owl over Newlands. My roosting Long Eared Owl, still on a very delicate area of land I'm not yet going to reveal is still present but I promise that if I get permission to divulge it's whereabouts I certainly will. My apologies for the secrecy to those who've emailed but I'm sure you understand.