On the 5th of January we had agreed to take our youngest son back to University. However he didn’t want to go until lunch time. This gave us the morning to go birdwatching locally. The weather was cold, grey, windy and cloudy. Having heard about a group of Waxwings at Kirk Hallam, we decided to go and look for them so we drove the few miles to the site. We were greeted by the sights of a tree laden with berries, but empty of birds, whilst being surrounded by birdwatchers with cameras, massive telephoto lenses, telescopes and binoculars. Many of them knew each other and there was a lot of good natured banter whilst we stood and waited. The locals regarded us with wariness. I expect a group of weatherbeaten individuals with cameras and telephoto lenses hanging about in the street outside your house must be a concern, especially if you don’t understand the madness of birdwatching.
We waited for half an hour and saw only a flock of Starlings and a few Siskin in a nearby silver birch tree. A male Blackbird greedily stuffed his beak with berries in a nearby tree eating what he could before the Waxwings returned and ate all his berries. After a while many of the birdwatchers drifted away and we decided to visit the lake at the bottom of the hill. This was where we found the birdwatchers all of them avidly watching birds through their telescopes. This is as good an advert as you get for letting you know where the birds are. Right enough, in the poplar trees by the lake, 5 Waxwings were perched. They flew from branch to branch, giving us ample opportunities to see the crests on the birds the colourful sides and the pinkish buff breast plumage. Apparently there had been 6 waxwings the previous day but the local Sparrowhawk was presumed to have killed and scoffed one. True to form, on hearing this the local Sparrowhawk flew over giving us good views. On the lake a male Goosander swum around a small island. Tufted ducks, Mallards, Gadwell, Coot and Moorhens swum around in a desultory fashion. Several locals came to join us and were shown the birds. A few Canada Geese waddled across the road and as the clouds gathered and the wind picked up, the light deteriorated and we made our way home. We had seen 20 species and 2 new species for the year making a total of 108 species seen in 2012 so far.