Monday, 2 January 2017

Waxwinging it

I got alerted by Helen Bovil on Twitter about the presence of a flock of Waxwings at Sainsbury's in Hessle. It appears to be a Waxwing irruption winter and watching them again was be top in my birding wish list, so I got in touch with Robert Jaques to see if he fancied some waxwinging early in the morning. It was still dark when I got up, but the forecast was for sunny weather later. There had been some rain in the night and then a frost, so it took a while to scrape the car windshield and get going. A very cold morning, with a northerly wind.
 We arrived at Hessle after 8:00 am. The car park was quite slippery with ice. We walked about but the trees looked stripped bare. A single rowan at one end appeared to have some berries, which were being dealt with by a couple of squabbling blackbirds.
 We then went for plan B, which consisted in visiting the several supermarket car-parks frequented by waxwings in previous irruption years. We drew a blank at Asda in Hessle Road, the rowans there also completely devoid of berries. On the way to the Park Street by Tesco we drove past a line of rowans that were loaded full of berries a few weeks back, near Hull Royal Infirmary, and incredibly spotted a waxwing on one, crest erect, from the car! We swiftly and eventfully parked in a nearby side street, nicely called Linneus Street, and skidded on the pavement toward the said rowans. There was a nice flock of 18 of them. Some feeding on the rowans, that still held some fruit, but most were intent in drinking from a puddle just by the side of the road. They would start alighting on the tarmac when a bus or a car would go past and send them scampering up the tree again. At last they managed to stay long enough for some shots. At some point the whole flock left to a nearby tree top and eventually flew off south. The trip was made even nicer by the fact that joining the waxwings there were many Blackbirds, a couple of Mistle Thrushes, a Song Thrush, and, feeding on the many fallen berries Black-Headed Gulls and Feral Pigeons. The total tally of 23 bird species for a cold winter morning by a busy urban road is not bad at all

Drinking from a puddle.
One of the waxwings checks the sky.
The whole flock on a tree before departing.
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