Thursday, 10 January 2013

The Waxwing Cometh

Bohemian waxwing
With no rain in the forecast Jenny and I decided to take advantage of the momentous occasion and walk along the cycle path from Aldcliffe to Conder today.
It was cold and overcast but calm, which made a gentle trundle quite pleasant.
We saw much the usual stuff along the route; wigeon, cormorant, grey heron, little grebe, pink-footed and greylag geese, redshank, curlew, lapwing and what-not.
Passerines were unremarkable with the highlights being 2 grey wagtail, 3 rock pipit and a couple of ravens seen along the way. There are absolutely loads of goldfinches around at the moment, easily the most numerous finch along the estuary.
We saw at least 7 little egrets en route - presumably the tip of the iceberg as far as real numbers of these wee white herons is concerned.

At Conder we walked along the track beyond the bridge a short way before being diverted by the distinctive sound of a calling spotted redshank. It soon appeared, flying up from the creek and over the bridge out onto the estuary.
We then bumped into a couple who had just seen 5 waxwings in the pathside hawthorns. We had a quick look but couldn't locate them, so set off to The Stork for some lunch. As we walked along the road a greenshank flew by, again betraying its presence with its diagnostic call.

Just as were were watching the wader drop down beyond the bridge I noticed a small group of starling sized birds flying in. A scan with bins revealed a grey rump as they vanished into the hedgerow. We wandered back up to the path and and got great views as the 5 waxwings fed on hawthorn and rosehips by the track. Unfortunately the horrible flat light made getting decent photos an absolute non-starter, but that never stops me from trying! As you can see, the results were barely worth the bother.
We celebrated with lunch at the aforementioned Stork, washed down with a fine pint of Black Sheep bitter.
The walk back to Lancaster was pleasant enough, despite the rather limited birding highlights. 


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