At lunchtime I wandered out to the orchard nearest the main lab buildings (viewable from the east-west footpath across the research station). Numerous Fieldfares, Redwings, Blackbirds, Starlings, Chaffinches and Brambling were feeding on the rapidly diminishing apples (sorry couldn't resist another Redwing photo!).
As I entered the East Malling Research station via the Kiln Barn Road entrance I saw the usual flock of winter Thrushes and lots of Brambling.
Before I could get down to the churchyard orchard, Ross rang to say that nets set up by John for ringing had yielded 5x Waxwing - did I want to see the birds before they were released. Need he ask?! And as if by magic Mike Easterbrook suddenly appeared, wandering through the orchard, no doubt looking to add Jack Snipe to his February list, but uncannily being in the right place at the right time again! The Waxwings were fantastic close-up, John even pointed out the subtle differences in the black colouration on the bib and around the eye-mask, something I would never be able to discern in the field. The birds were treated with the utmost care while the ring was applied and afer records were taken the birds were released back into the orchard.
How Ross will tell you it's done - forget Heligoland traps, this is the Newham Coax. He dabs on his eau de Waxwing, adopts his most romantic facial expression(seriously that's as attractive as it gets), holds out his hands, gives the lightest of trills, and......
....... a bird lands in his hand! It's worked for every bird he's ever know!
But what is it? He has to resort to checking his field guide....aha, Waxwing.....I think! John Clements (aka The Bearded One) looks on - he's the one who put all the hard work in.
...and this one we called Warren (sorry mate I'm sure you'll get me back sometime this year!!!)
A full and more accurate report can be found on Bald Birder blog:
The birds, when released, sat out on a tree for a short while but were seen to feed later in the orchard.
A brilliant day, enjoying some of the best birds winter can offer - thanks Ross and John for bringing it all that a little bit closer!