Sunday, 12 December 2010

Where Are Those Waxwings?

After a week of great birding it seemed really churlish to still be moaning that I hadn't seen a Waxwing.

We'd spent the weekend at the Normanton Park Hotel on the banks of Rutland Water. The hotel gets very mixed reviews on Tripadvisor but that's probably because most of the year it hosts weddings and therefore is very busy and, I imagine, very noisy. We managed to hit it on a very quiet weekend, with a lot of cancellations because of the snow, so it was peaceful and ideally placed for what we wanted to do. The staff were helpful and friendly, the food was good and our room looked out over the water, so we couldn't ask for anything more. This gives you an idea of the atmosphere :

There's another view of the church on my Twitpic page - the link is on the right of this blog. We spent two days on the reserve and whilst I didn't add to my year list, we thoroughly enjoyed the walks and the birding. The best bird of the weekend was a Sparrowhawk from Crake Hide, which perched and preened in front of us.

Then the week just got better and better. Even though I kept dipping on the Hen Harrier at Astley, I got the Water Pipit at Lemonroyd Filter Beds on Tuesday, thanks to Rob Leighton. No pictures of my own, but here's one of Dave Hunton's :

On Wednesday I got great views of Long-eared Owls :

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk down the River Aire with Rob and Alan Robertshaw, where we spotted my first Smew :

Not a great picture, as the light was really going, but there it is, nevertheless. As I say, it seemed churlish to moan about no Waxwings. 

Then, on Friday, we decided to go into Leeds to finish off the Christmas shopping. We went to the German Market for "spicy-sausage-inna-bun" and dunkel, then hit the shops. As we were about to come home, I thought I'd just take a look at Woodhouse Square.  We'd seen Waxwings there during an irruption in 2005 and we were close by.  Our luck was in :

A small flock of twenty or so were flying between the trees in the Square itself and bushes in the grounds of the LGI.  Magic!!

So with less than three weeks to go, I am at 176 on my year list. (BUBO shows 175 as it won't let me count Ruddy Shelduck).  I'm aiming for 180.  Now, where is that Hen Harrier?
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