Saturday, 3 January 2015

Waxwing - Great Bird to end the year with.

New Year's Eve Waxwing, Brancaster, Norfolk
Was it a birding sixth sense that made me look into the berry laden bush that overhung the shed in which my kids were noisily playing? I'd' clocked the mass of red berry's earlier and thought it ought to be good for winter thrushes or even in a better winter for them waxwings. 

As I walked towards the shed on New Years Eve my eye was first caught by a male blackbird diving into the depths of the berry laden tree above it, and then a pale starling sized bird sitting on a branch that was weighed down by red berry's, a waxwing.

Now at this time of year as I walk and drive around Norfolk I am constantly, almost subconsciously, scanning trees and shrubs for waxwings. Day in day out my mind is scanning and filtering likely spots for a waxwing to perch and feed and then filtering out the perches with no birds on them and the rag bag of birds such as Starlings and Thrushes that more than 99 times out of 100 I do see. 

I guess these fleeting non-sightings are as much a manifestation of my birding sixth sense as the rare occasions when all those conscious and subconscious habits that are the culmination of  more than 10,000 hours in the field come together and turn up a quality bird.

New Year's Eve Waxwing, Brancaster, Norfolk
Over the last few years driving around Norfolk I've found a autumn Great Grey Shrike, instinct telling me to vary might commute home and take a slightly longer route via the coast. Various Red Kites who's' distinctive long winged flight triggers something in my birding radar to distinguish them from large gulls even at some distance. And of course on several occasions flocks of Waxwings.

One of the great things about waxwings is that they are pretty distinctive with their head crests and face masks and so within seconds I'd been able to call my wife over and show her and our two small boys the Waxwing. I quickly ran indoors and grabbed my little compact super zoom camera and was able to spend ten minutes grabbing some record shots before the bird gave its trilling call and flew off.

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