Saturday, 17 January 2009

Greenfield Waxwings

My original plan for this year was not to spend so much time running around getting ticks for the year list but instead to go after birds that I still need for my life list. So far however, I seem very much focused on the year list which is proceeding much faster than last year, but also on my Oxon year list. A fellow Oxon birder and I seem to be "going for it" this year though I don't have quite the dedication that he does and when offered the chance to look for a bittern that had been seen at Radley lake the day after the trip that I'm about to describe I whimped out and did some work instead. I think that he's already several species ahead of me but we're very much working together as a team so it's great to have help in finding local stuff. Anyway, as I was saying my original plan was to concentrate on birds that I still need for the life list, especially stuff that I should really have and waxwings is very much one of those birds. I know that I didn't see any as a boy and last year was a poor waxwing year so I didn't have the chance. This year however has been a good one and I've keenly been watching on Bird Guides to see how close they are. Unfortunately they've mostly been annoyingly just too far for me to feel it's worth making the effort (see I'm just not obssessed enough) at about 50 miles away but also in an awkward direction from Oxford with no direct fast road (e.g. Herts). Recently some were reported 38 miles away at Greenfield in Beds, still a rather indirect route from Oxford but more within my comfort range. Now it turns out that my VLW (very lovely wife) had been talking of visiting the Ikea at Milton Keynes and it had not escaped my attention that this was not too far from Greenfield so I suggested that we went over there one week day whilst our two daughters were at school: I would drop her off whilst nobly taking L our two year old son on a drive to Greenfield. So on Tuesday this is what I did.

The journey there was uneventful apart from getting rather lost on leaving Ikea and heading off south instead of north. However I soon corrected myself and after about half an hour found myself at the village of Greenfield pulling up at School Lane where the waxwings were supposed to be. Lo and behold they were indeed there in a tree opposite where I had parked but as I was getting my digiscoping gear set up they flew to a tree behind the house though still just in view and then further away out of sight. Whilst I'd now seen the birds I was most disappointed as I understood waxwings to be most obliging photographic subjects. I decided to go and scout around to see if I could find them elsewhere in the village but did not succeed. However as I returned, there they were on the television arial of the original house. I set up my gear again and this time they were happy to pose for a good ten minutes before flying again so I got plenty of pictures (though the light was not good) and some video footage as well.

Three of the five birds present
Then there were two...

...looking the other way.

Some video footage of the Greenfield waxwings. To view a larger version of this footage click here.

The journey back was uneventful and my VLW had had a successful shop so an all-round excellent day.
I was so pleased finally to catch up with these charismatic birds. All I need now is to find some in Oxon for the county year list.

2009 National Year List
081 waxwing (Lifer) 13/01/2009 Greenfield, Beds
082 goosander 14/01/2009 University Parks, Oxford
083 stonechat 14/01/2009 Burgess Field NR

The Oxon county List is two less (missing bittern and waxwing).

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