Wednesday, November 09, 2016

A Waxwing Winter.

If you are a birder living in Northumberland you should count yourself very lucky.

We may be very impoverished on the butterfly, moth and dragonfly front, but we really do quite well for birds.

As a large, east facing county with a wide range of landscapes, an equally good number of species can be found all year round, but what we do excel at is autumn migration.

From late July - late November we get excellent passage of waders, seabirds that are second to none, both breeding and on migration, with things such as flocks of Roseate Terns, decent Skua movements, hundreds of Sooty Shearwaters and even thousands of Little Auks. All four divers are a real possibility if the weather is right. Wildfowl is good with seaduck, geese and wild swans aplenty, then we have drift migrants such as Wrynecks, Barred Warblers and Red backed Shrikes, and later on we do well for Sibes such as Yellow browed, Pallas's, Dusky and Radde's Warblers. Oh yes, the northernmost English county is a good place to be at the 'back end'.



As Autumn draws to a close, another Northumberland speciality appears on a regular basis - the Waxwing. Whilst further south, a lone bird or a small party attracts a good twitching crowd, here we tend to expect larger numbers occasionally. In 2012, in the first week of November ( see these blog posts for a start) we were treated to over 100 of these lovely birds around our garden with out another birder to be seen ( well maybe one or two). Since then, I have had odd singles around the area but just to add to the already superb autumn here in 2016, this year is now turning into a Waxwing winter.

My first were on Monday when 35+ flew N past me whilst driving to work between Amble and Warkworth, then on Tuesday the game upped a little with 30+ at ASDA in Ashington followed half an hour later by 60+ at the south of the town near North Seaton Cemetery.

Today there has been masses of them around the county - maybe 350 in Ashington at three locations, three flocks along the A1 between Alnwick and Morpeth, including one of 200 birds, 200+ at Cramlington, 30+ in Morpeth and many other scattered parties.

Our spring birding may not be so good for overshoots, but would I swap? I dont think so...




7 comments:

Alan Whitehead said...

Great news and great pics!

amanda peters said...

Just rub it in why don't you. :) It's bad enough I live to far from the sea and your beautiful places in Northumberland...

Great photos, I'm sure they are on there way down to West Yorkshire
Amanda xx

borderglider said...

Wonderful, thanks for the great photos.
All i have in Coldstream are thousands of Fieldfares. :)

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

So envious!

Findlay Wilde said...

Still waiting over here in the west side. There have been a few around though. I still remember that bumper year when everyone saw them except me. Hope that isn't going to happen again!

Stewart said...

Alan - Cheers
Amanda - Oh yes, you will get some I'm sure. Dont forget to come back to Northumberland!
Border - All? Fieldfares are fantastic birds, every bit as dramatic as Waxers...
Simon - Ta
Findlay - Good Luck Buddy, youre sure to catch them this time...

Ragged Robin said...

Great news Stewart and wonderful photos. Hopefully, Waxwings will appear in my landlocked county eventually as they exhaust berry supplies further north and east!! I haven't seen any since the last irruption.