Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sunday 2nd January 2011

I didn't manage to get out birding yesterday, so my first patch bird for 2011 was an albino Starling seen from the car, sitting out on an TV aerial on the Tonbridge Road, Barming.

This morning I decided to make amends and a walk from South Street to Maidstone Hospital to pick up my car (my wife was working and had taken the car at some ungodly hour) seemed like a good opportunity to see what was on patch.  With my two lads in tow we managed 4x Black-headed Gulls on the TV aerial opposite our house first (TV aerials seem to be dominating my birding of late!).  We managed 2x Red-legged Partridge, 2x Pheasant, 2x Red Grouse and a Woodcock on North Street - unfortunately all dead, the trophies of a friend's New Years Day shooting expedition. Onto Heath Road where I had the brief glimpse of what I'm 95% sure was a Waxwing.  The rest of the journey was pretty uneventful in terms of birds, I'd hoped to get perhaps a Treecreeper or Nuthatch in the old Burial Ground but everything was decidedly dead!

I visited West Malling in the afternoon and after speaking to James Bushnell (and prompted by Greenie's comments) I thought I'd check the Research site in East Malling for Waxwings.  I've been off since the 23rd December and have checked the site on a couple of occasions, but going into work on annual leave, even if it is to go birding, don't seem right!  Parking by East Malling Church, and with the kids in tow I walked first past the Genebank (orchard just east of the churchyard) - everything went up and I was positive I had 20+ Waxwings in flight amongst the Fieldfares, Redwings and Starlings.  I followed the flock East and sure enough in the apple orchard nearest the main lab buildings I counted 32x Waxwings.  The light was pretty dire (it was almost dusk) but I managed a few record shots before the flock flew South at 15:45.  Good to have them back, and savouring every minute of them!

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