Monday, 2 May 2011

Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus) Marlow 30/01/11

My next Waxwing encounter was to be in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, with a mobile flock that was often seen around Globe Park Industrial Estate and some of the surrounding residential areas.

With no sign at any of the residential areas i continued on to Globe Park, driving south down “Parkway” i soon began to hear the familiar trilling calls and spotted a small group of Waxwings in tall trees adjacent to “The Chase”, as i stopped they departed! I continued along Parkway checking bushes, trees amongst the industrial estate but without any luck, there was still a number of berry laden bushes and after checking each one that was visible i soon met a group of people viewing one intently. I stopped, parked up and wandered over to them, unfortunately they hadn’t seen the Waxwings and were watching a few Redwings feeding on a berry bush so i headed off on foot for a look about.

I decided to walk north along the pavement/footpath alongside “parkway” scanning every bush and tree as i went, the constant drone of traffic from the A404 made it impossible to hear anything at distance but finally as i approached the footbridge which crosses the A404 i spotted and heard a flock of Waxwings overhead. They crossed the A404 and landed in trees on the west side of the dual carriageway and almost at bridge height where they perched. 

I crossed the bridge and found them in a tree next to the footpath and lake that leads to Westhorpe House. They were at the top of a tree and at the same height as i was standing on the A404 footbridge, here they spent 5 or so minutes preening. There seemed to be a lot of mutual preening and interaction between a number of birds, signs of early courtship or family groups? small numbers then began dropping down to feed on Rosehip and Hawthorn berries in and around bramble thickets at the bottom of the trees next to the bridge. It was great watching them, almost perfect blue skies and magical views of these stunning birds. Unfortunately this didn’t last long as 4 youngsters suddenly turned up on quad bikes and scramble bikes and literally tore the place up flushing everything everywhere, these little so & so’s continued to rev the n*ts off their bikes and the Waxwings took flight to the top of the trees where they grouped together before departing. Again i was thwarted by some little scrote-bags on motorbikes.

 I watched them fly back over the A404 eastwards towards the Industrial estate and “Forth Avenue” area where they perched up, numbers increased with what looked to be smaller parties of 3’s and 4’s arriving from different directions until they numbered somewhere in the 40-50’s, perhaps more, it was difficult to count exactly as some where obscured by branches. I watched them from Parkway feeding in the roadside hedges where again i witnessed some very friendly behaviour between a few of the birds, again there was a lot of mutual preening and at one point 3 birds lined up together on a branch and preened each other, one got less of a preen and flew to another bird which in turn preened it. Their feeding seemed a bit more relaxed than others i have seen perhaps a reflection of the slightly warmer weather and not the snow covered towns and villages that greeted them earlier in the year. There were also a number of birds feeding others at an almost leisurely pace, not the usual frenetic pluck the berry and down in one but a simple pick and pass which i had never witnessed before.

As the afternoon ebbed away there was one last chance of a few photos as the birds posed in the afternoon sun before departing east over the A404 and towards the popular trees on the A4155 opposite the Wyevale garden centre.

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