Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Winter Delights

Waxwing @ Cubbington, Warwickshire
It's seems that mother nature has suddenly woken up and realised that spring is approaching fast, up to this week we've managed to escape without a single wintry blast. Of course we're all aware that this has changed over the last few days, the weekend is certainly looking interesting.

Once again the marina is frozen in, the heating is permanently on, and the water to the pontoons has been switched off! Ah memories of 2010, but will we beat last years record temperature of -11.3C recorded by my on-board weather station here at Wigram's?

Over the past few days I decided to stay local, visiting Napton Hill, Napton Reservoir and of course Brandon Marsh, where on Tuesday morning I inadvertently flushed my first Woodcock of the year.

Before arriving at Brandon on Tuesday I took a second look at a local area, where a few weeks ago Dee and I had located 3 Short-eared Owls. The weather was appalling, with low cloud, a bitterly cold easterly and occasional light snow. Therefore, it was no surprise to me that I drew a complete blank on the Owls. However, the early visit wasn't all bad, recording ♂♀Roe Deer, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard, plus a decent flock of around 20 Meadow Pipit, 15 Linnet and several Yellowhammer!

2 of 5 Waxwing @ Cubbington
This morning I made my first visit of the year to Napton Hill, the weather although bitterly cold was stunning, unfortunately the birding quite the opposite. The hill was extremely quiet and the best of the visit was a calling Nuthatch, several Fieldfare and Redwing, plus 2 Buzzard.

Napton Reservoir was equally as quiet with most of the waterfowl sheltering in the reeds towards the north end of the water. Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan and Pochard were all represented and as I walked to the southern end and back, 3 Snipe in flight and 3 Bullfinch were the best I could muster. Worth a mention that Common Gull were in good numbers, I counted 52 but sadly no surprises within!

With the current weather conditions It's no surprise to me that over the past few days sightings of Waxwings have increased locally, with more venturing inland and I predict even more sightings nationally over the coming weeks. To this end, when a bird-guides alert came up at around mid-morning that Waxwings had once again been sighted locally, I aborted my plans for lunch at the Brandon Nature Centre and headed over to Cubbington, only 6 miles away.

Fieldfare (love the eye colour!)
I arrived at the indicated location and thanks to Kevin Groocock for his excellent direction, I was soon parked opposite a medium sized Hawthorn Tree, and strangely enough so was Geoff Haynes, another local photographer. As you can see from the posted pictures all went according to plan, the only downer was that the sun was directly behind the birds, but I'm still delighted with the results! God knows what the residents of the Old Peoples Home thought, who's windows look directly at the tree!!