Monday, 14 March 2011

Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) Calcot, Berks. 21/01/11

It took what felt like an eternity for the cold grey January skies to make way for a bit of sunshine, Waxwing sightings were numerous across the counties of Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire as flocks moved south through the UK. I decided to go and have a look at a flock that had been frequenting the grounds of the Porsche Centre in Calcot, Reading, Berkshire, feeding on a number of berry bushes along Pincents Lane and from all accounts they were showing very well.

I arrived at Calcot and before searching for the Waxwings I made a quick detour to Sainsbury's. As I walked towards the front doors I suddenly picked up on a familiar “ssrrrr” coming from across the car park where I had parked, I turned to see 3 small flocks of birds dropping in to a tree and hurried back towards my car. It was obvious that these were the Waxwings that I'd come to see and quickly grabbed my scope from the car, about 40+ birds were now sat together in two trees some 40ft away and in good voice. Below the flock of Waxwings a steady stream of traffic queued for the petrol station which began to drown out the Waxwing calls, they remained together in the two trees with some looking rather attentive towards the cars below but stay they did........ Up until a little toe-rag and his scooter chums passed-by revving the bo**cks off their mopeds, needless to say the whole flock of Waxwings were soon up and away.

After leaving Sainsbury’s I drove the short distance to Pincents Lane and viewed the area around the Porsche Centre and adjacent buildings, there was no sight or sound of any Waxwings and after driving along the whole of Pincents Lane I drove back to Calcot and looked around some of the housing estates. Here I managed to see 2 flocks flying over and driving back to the Porsche Centre found them perched up in trees at the back of the grounds. I parked up and grabbed my scope, bins and camera and found a spot on the opposite side of the road, close enough to digiscope but not close enough to stop them from feeding, it’s easy to forget these birds have come a long way and need to keep feeding in order to survive without constant human intrusion.

While I waited for the Waxwings to come down to feed I was treated to some nice views of Fieldfare and Redwing as they fed on Cotoneaster berries highlighted by the afternoon sun, a few Wood Pigeons were dotted around in the trees busily feeding and with each tug at the berries saw many cascading to the floor, these in turn were being picked up by a couple of Blackbirds which were hopping back and forth underneath the trees and making the most of anything being dropped.

It wasn't long before the Waxwings started to fly down to a number of trees behind the cotoneasters, here they perched high surveying the scene and with each passing second more and more arrived to join them. A few birds started to drop down on the the Cotoneaster berries and in true Waxwing fashion that signalled the rest to follow suit, the sun was behind me and directly on them which enhanced the viewing exceptionally. I was so intent in watching them that my thoughts of getting some better quality photos disappeared and I watched intently as they fed, it wasn’t too long before a few flew off to the large trees at the back of the Porsche grounds signalling the rest of the flock to follow. After congregating together for about 5 minutes in the large trees on the Porsche site they departed towards Calcot returning some 30 minutes later.

Throughout the next couple of hours the flock fed on and off at the Porsche Centre giving some really good views and despite going to attempt to get some better photos of them i found myself transfixed watching them through my scope, the photos i did take were a slight improvement on my previous attempts but still not what i was looking for. My quest would continue.........

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