Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Tuesday 11th December 2012
The last couple of days have been a real bonus with lovely crisp, sunny weather. I spent yesterday (Monday) lunchtime searching out Waxwings both on the EMR site and in nearby Broadwater Farm (thanks for the heads up Mike P). There were very high numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starlings, especially at the latter site. Unfortunately no Waxwings.......well not until I was a minute away from work when I heard the distinctive trill of a Waxwing.
Sure enough a couple of Waxwing were seen perched in a windbreak alongside the concept pear orchard. A quick scan in the orchards (the ones I'd checked 50 minutes earlier!) brought the total up to 8 birds, matching the number Ross had reported on site last Friday. I informed a couple of people on site, but was surprised to get a call at 3pm informing that the Waxwings were perched up in a silver birch near the glasshouse area, and there were now a "few more" than the original 8. I grabbed my bins and made the short walk to where they'd be reported....and was met with a tree literately dripping with Waxwings, 51 in total! Unfortunately the sun was starting to set, and I was advised that it would best not to broadcast the news as the site was hosting a special visitor the following morning.
So to this morning (Tuesday) - another crisp, fine start to the day, and I was at work for sunrise. Waxwings could be seen feeding in the orchard near the main lab buildings, and a Sparrowhawk did a good job of spooking everything up, revealing 32 Waxwings amongst the massed winter thrushes. They settled down into the silver birch tree in the glasshouse area, adjacent to the 'Concept Pear Orchard' sign alongside the public footpath through the site. A quick sortie at lunchtime showed that 12 birds were still present, but there was no further sign c 3pm. Also of note today were a group of Lesser Redpolls in Ditton Court Quarry and 2+ Reed Bunting in the Pea Field, N of the Water Tower, Barming. I've got plenty more photos but I don't want to inflict Waxwing fatigue on readers!
If visiting the site please walk in from East Malling village (or from Ditton) using the public footpath across the site. The Waxwings are favouring a berry bush next to the 'Concept Pear Orchard' sign near the glasshouse area. If not feeding here they often perch in the nearby silver birches or alder windbreak. They are also feeding in the apple orchard where the site road bends to the left by the main lab buildings. Hot drinks, snacks and cold and hot food (and toilets) are all available at the Orchards Cafe which can be reached by following the footpath through the main site.
This is a private site, so please keep to the public footpaths and under NO circumstances drive on the site roads or enter the orchards/glasshouse area.
Oh, and the special visitor.....HRH Duke of Kent....
HRH Duke of Kent (left), Prof Peter Gregory (right) and Viscount De L'Isle (rear), as viewed from my office window. Completely off topic but I was interested to read that Viscount De L'Isle's father was a Victoria Cross holder as was his grandfather, Lord Gort. Also present at today's do was Bobby Neame of Shepherd Neame fame and who's great-uncle (?) Philip Neame also won the VC, as well as gold medal in the 1924 Olympics. I also learnt that the Duke of Kent was a cousin to both the Queen and also to Prince Philip. I don't think you'd ever be short of a conversation with this lot!