Tuesday, 4 January 2011


It all started so well. The Waxwing invasion into the south-east began in late November, and I thought I was a top dog when I had one of the earliest in Surrey, a single flying over Sutton. A few days later I strolled up to Epsom Downs to watch a flock that were being faithful to a rowan tree. So far, so good.

Then the flood gates opened. There were local Waxwings everywhere - Sutton, Cheam, Belmont, Banstead, Ewell, Wallington, Burgh Heath, Redhill - these places all held flocks. So, never one to pass over a good local bird (or, in these cases, birds) I went off in search of the trilling jewels. My success rate then plumetted...

Belmont: dipped four times on a flock of 40

Cheam: dipped once on a flock of 60

Beddington SF: missed two flyovers by ten minutes having stood in the very same spot for the previous two hours.

Banstead: missed fair sized flocks in two locations

Redhill: spent two hours waiting for a mobile flock, leaving at 14.20 hrs. They turned up at 14.21

Together with these misses I must mention that I have walked the local streets for hours on end searching for a flock of my own. This has resulted in zilch, nothing, naff all. Other birders seem to find them when they are taking the rubbish out, taking their dog for a walk or just going shopping, let alone whilst out birding. I think I'm trying too hard. When I stop looking they'll come and find me.


David Campbell said...

I've come to the conclusion looking hard for a bird simply doesn't work. I cannot remember any time when I've thoroughly grilled every inch of a field for a scarce bunting or the top of every tree for a Waxwing and had any success. Literally every find for me locally seems to have been when I was least expecting it.


Steve Gale said...

You are so right David. Back when I used to find decent birds they mostly came and found me, although I had a good hit rate when grilling duck flocks (Ring-necked Duck and Surf Scoter spring to mind). The rest were, as you say, whilst least expecting it.

Stewart said...

You're going about it all wrong Steve. Dont look for the birds, look for the BERRIES! You know what they say, You look after the pennies and let the pounds look after themselves ;)

Graham James said...

Good advice, Stewart, except the ones that are near our local patch have decided that berries are no longer good enough for them and are raiding trees with rotting apples.

Factor said...

Frenches Road is a good spot at the moment. They have stuck around for quite a few days. I know how you feel, though. I dipped the Epsom birds ten times and never ended up seeing them, only to have a flock land in a tree opposite my house about a month later (I live just off Frenches Road in Redhill) and then a few weeks later found these ones feasting on rotting apples in someone's back garden.