A week or so ago, I was staring out the window looking for work inspiration when I got a phone call from JC, a fellow Oxon birder who is very keenly working on his Oxon county year list. He'd found a pair of waxwings in Abingdon and I needed no further encouragement to get down there. Within about 30 minutes I was pulling up in the pouring rain in a rather non-descript side-road where I found JC and another birder. Fortunately the two birds were still there though they were rather mobile and kept moving from tree to tree. There was no obvious source of food there which could explain their restlessness. JC explained that he'd been down there for several hours scouring the side roads in the vicinity in the wake of a report of two birds in someone's back garden there the previous day and his hard work had paid off. I could see that I had a lot to learn about county listing and that the really serious players were far more dedicated that I was. Still I was glad to pick up on the fruits of his labours!
I spent the next half an hour or so struggling to photograph the two birds in the pouring rain which is not at all condusive to digiscoping. I was trying to position the car so that I could stand under the opened boot as a shelter (we have a hatchback) and take my photos without the gear getting too wet but the birds kept moving so in the end I stayed put and waited for them to come into view. The resultant photos were taken through the branches of some intervening trees but were the best I could manage in the circumstances. Unfortunately the birds lingered for just a bit more than a day and then moved on so I didn't have another opportunity to photograph them in better conditions.
The Abingdon waxwings
Apart from the waxwings because of the weather it's been a bit of a struggle to add new ticks. The snow and subsequent flooding when it all melted has made many places inaccessible: for example conditions are too wet or flooded to try for jack snipe in the usual places. I did manage to find a kingfisher on my local patch on Port Meadow whilst trudging through the snow. I was also lucky enough to have a ring-necked parakeet (presumably the resident one in Jericho) fly over me as I was in Summertown on a shopping trip. JC also kindly called me out to try for a bittern which has been over-wintering in Abingdon: someone had flushed it into a small reed bed but when we went to take a look it had moved on from where it had originally flown to. Still we had a pleasant couple of hours splashing around in a bog!
The county list has caught up on a couple of birds (waxwing and shelduck) that previously I only had on the national list.
2009 National Year List
109 kingfisher 05/02/2009 Port Meadow
110 red-legged partridge 07/02/2009 Cassington GP
111 little owl 14/02/2009 Farmoor Reservoir
112 ring-necked parakeet 14/02/2009 Summertown
2009 County Year List
098 kingfisher 05/02/2009 Port Meadow
099 red-legged partridge 07/02/2009 Cassington GP
100 waxwing 09/02/2009 Abingdon (Boxhill Rd)
101 shelduck 11/02/2009 Port Meadow
102 little owl 14/02/2009 Farmoor Reservoir
103 ring-necked parakeet 14/02/2009 Summertown