Friday, 28 December 2012

Roosting Waxwings, Shadoxhurst

Back playing football in the Shadoxhurst field this afternoon, with Lewis and friends, I could hear Waxwings calling in the distance for much of the time we were there. The weather was as wet and gloomy as ever making it impossible to spot them from afar.

Then at about 4.15 pm the birds were audibly much closer and calling strongly together. We quickly spotted the flock of at least 50 birds as they made a slow 'figure of eight' flight over the gardens of Molloy Road and then over the football field, before finally dropping into roost in gardens near the village pavillion. I'm pleased my son and friends saw them so well, all be it as silhouettes.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Boxing day Waxwings and Little Egret

Yesterday, I walked around the football field in lovely sunshine, but alas no Waxwings there. But there was a confiding FIeldfare sharing turf with a pair of Mistle thrushes. An hour later and the sky had turned grey, and I was driving up towards the post office when 20 Waxwings flew low over the roadside gardens. 

Today, a Little Egret has been stalking the flooded field behind the garden a nice bird to be ending the year with.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Fly-catching Waxwings

We received a phone call from friends in the village this morning to let us know that the Waxwings were still in their favourite hedgerow behind the Shadoxhurst football field. So off we went on a walk to find them- which didn't take long.  In the hour viewing the Waxwings, the twelve birds took little interest in the remaining Berries of Haws and Rose Hips, but instead were fly-catching insects. Whilst it was difficult to see what they were catching, it was a fine sight to see, the birds oblivious to our presence. The resident Starlings were also feeding in the same way and in the warm sunny air we could hear if not see the occasional hover fly whizz by.  No doubt, a mid-winter insect bounty is a more energy rich meal than fruit berries despite the energy expended in catching suitable prey.

Before watching the Waxwings we had a little walk in the woods close to Hornash Lane and were rewarded with a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. This is I think our first record this year - and good to know that there is still one around. 

Elsewhere on our walk, a Kestrel preyed on half-drowned Earthworms forced to surface heavy soils flashed with rainwater.  Two Buzzards were never far away, and a party of Meadow pipits were feeding in the Scout field. 

Thank you to David and Daphinee for telling us about the 2 Little Egrets that have returned to the ditches around the village - unfortunately today, we didn't see them.  

The Waxwings are now into week 2 of their stay around Shadoxhurst and we have Apples in the gardenand two bushes, laden with Rose Hip Berries. Fingers-crossed they're going to find them soon.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Waxwings still in the village

Making the most of the late afternoon sunshine before the next wave of rain arrived, I joined a game of football with my son and his mates. Once again, it wasn't long before I could here a party of 12 Waxwings, trilling from a hedgerow beyond the field. I quickly whizzed around to tell some more bird loving neighbours, but sadly the birds were flushed by a Sparrowhawk.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

More Shadoxhurst Waxwings

 Having put my neighbours in the village on 'Waxwing alert', it wasn't long before my friend Geoff, a resident in the next street, reported back to me that he'd had twelve Waxwings strip his Rowan tree of berries on Sunday. Geoff sent me a couple of pictures and is very excited that his 2 year old Rowan tree has provided such entertainment. Thanks for the pics Geoff!

In 20 years of living in Kent, I cannot remember a winter where Waxwings are turning up just about everywhere in our southern side of Kent.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Garden Waxwings and Stock Dove

 I wondered if my imagination was playing tricks on me earlier in the week, when I thought I could hear Waxwings 'trilling' somewhere in our garden vicinity.
And then on Saturday there they were, six magnificent Waxwings sat at the top of a tall Spruce Tree in our front garden. The tree is taller than the house, and also visible from the back garden which is where George, Lewis and myself watched them from. These are the first garden Waxwings for at least a decade. On this occasion no pictures I'm afraid.

Even rarer, a Stock Dove has followed in the foot steps of our Summer Turtle Doves and joined the local Wood pigeons for a daily seed feed. This is the first Stock Dove in 18 years to feed in the garden. Around Shadoxhurst Stock Doves are present as a breeding bird in just small numbers, but there has been notably more Stock Doves wintering in the area this autumn.

Stock Dove, photographed from the kitchen window.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Waxwing roadside casualty

My sister Skyped me this morning to show me a freshly killed Waxwing, it was from a flock of 400 birds in Burton, Lincolnshire. It had been hit by a car, but was still alive when she picked it up. The winter's Waxwing invasion, has seen the birds desperate act of feeding on roadside berries taking its deathly toll. Sadly, 2 hours later, I too was picking up another Waxwing casualty from a flock at Hamstreet that are also dicing with death along the hedgerow of the very fast A2070. Coincidentally the bird I picked up was a beautiful male - just as my sister had found. It had a broken neck but was otherwise was unmarked - very sad. I weighed it at 70 grammes.

The birds at Hamstreet are depleting the Hawthorn berries rapidly and yet the flock is still building in number, there were at  least 50 + birds at Johnson's Corner today, with more birds feeding in the hedge towards the Kingsnorth turn-off on the A2070. Hopefully the Waxwings will soon be visiting our gardens, with just Sparrowhawks to contend with.

To cute for their own good, Waxwings have little fear of people or cars