24th January 2017. Waxwings.

To be honest I had begun to have thoughts the Belper Waxwings were a illusion. We have had reports for at least a month and every time I went after them they had evaporated like morning mist. The first ones had really arrived during the thick fog a while back and had given most of us the run around since then. I had checked the usual haunts they favour during “Waxwing winters” and failed to locate them. They seemed very nomadic this year, and seemed to be conducting hit and run raids on berry bearing trees all over the town, but never staying at the scene of the crime for long.

Late in the day on the 23rd they were reported on the Fleet and the following morning they were still there! I drove into town and parked up. A solitary Rowan still held berries along the edge of the Parks along with two Mistle Thrushes but no Waxwings, surprise, surprise. I sat in the car looking at the trees then had a little walk round the roads nearby, still no luck. I returned to the car and was just contemplating leaving when suddenly a little flock of 20 or so tumbled down out of the sky into the trees. They paused briefly atop a tree then rushed down to grab berries before the Mistle Thrush, who had momentarily been distracted, returned to defend his tree and they then swept away again over the Coppice Brook towards the car park. I left the car with alacrity and hurried to the gate onto the parks. They had, after all, not gone far and I could still hear the silvery trills in the distance before they returned and settled on a bare tree a short way away… unfortunately a dog walker decided to appear and chat to me at just this point and I couldn’t politely just run off so when they flew again I was left only with distant pictures.

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Once again they flew towards the Coppice, but this time they landed in the tall trees near the Fleet Park houses. From there they began to fly over the Park and Fleet to drop down into the Gardens at the back of the houses. You couldn’t really get near them at all as they were always mobile and in the gardens. They appeared to be concentrating on a small tree which had no fruit obvious but I would guess as they were dropping lower than I could see there were some apples or the like lower down. They would rush in, stay for a couple of minutes before escaping back to the tall trees behind Fleet Park road.   I managed a few record snaps before the light got too bad.

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One day I’ll get a good photograph of Waxwings, they never seem to play ball with me for some reason. Even in my own garden and trees they never have let me get a good picture!

Moss and plants on the wall at the gate to the parks were still melting this mornings frost even this late in the day.

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