Sunday, 26 January 2014

Waxwings and the search for Snow Buntings

The weather forecast for Sunday was looking pretty grim, so Saturday night with not a great deal on offer locally we had decided to give it a miss.
That was until a text this morning from Brian at 5am saying he was going to try for Waxwings, and that he was leaving at 6.
With Waxwings being much scarcer this winter it would be good to catch up with them before they depart.
So at 6 we head off on the 80 mile drive towards Martlesham Heath in Suffolk. 
The previous days reports had been of seven birds feeding close to the Douglas Bader pub. Shortly after leaving the A12 the pub is found.
In front of the pub is a small square with shops all around the outside and in the middle is a paved area with berry filled trees.
It's freezing cold, but thankfully dry and in the semi-darkness a Redwing is seen feeding in one of the trees. Shortly afterwards a small group of Fieldfares fly in, but there's no sign of any Waxwings.


As we are joined by another couple of birders, a group of five likely looking candidates fly over with two more trailing them a short distance behind. After circling round they settle in a tree behind the pub and are our target birds.
They leave the tree and approach the trees in the square near us. The light is very poor but I took a record shot anyway.


From here we head for Landguard in search of Snow Buntings. 
We spread out in search but after three unsuccessful circuits and with the predicted rain now very much in the air, we head for the cafe and a much needed coffee. Before reaching the cafe we scan the gulls that have been attracted in by some people throwing bread down.
The reward is a couple of smart looking Med Gulls and another year tick.
Refreshed and now warmed up, we head back out and start to make another sweep of the area. Walking the shingle I come across a Guillemot that had perished, and as I head off again dad spots a group of Snow Bunting close by.
These birds can be unbelievably difficult to spot if they are not moving among the shingle. Even when close to them if you take your eyes of them for a second they disappear from view. Once they settle down and start to feed, there's a group of ten birds found.
By now the rain is quite heavy, but it doesn't stop Brian from lying on the shingle to try to grab a photo. 

Snow Bunting

On the walk back to the car dad takes a tumble, after picking him up and checking he's alright. We accuse him of diving.  

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