Showing posts from January, 2024

Willing Waxwings

In the last post, I eluded to spending some fruitless time trying to track down my own Waxwings - but what I didn't admit to was that I was also wasting minutes by dipping on other peoples, including a brief flock in Epsom 12-days ago. Since then there have been a rash of sightings in the Ashtead area, the birds never settling for long, at least not long enough for others to join the original observer in watching them. Yesterday saw a flock of 60+ fly over the area, but not settle. Us local birders needed a break and this morning that came courtesy of Andy Holden, who, after searching the area for several days, found a flock of c20 Waxwings feeding on Mistletoe berries in Greville Park Road. The alert from Andy came just before 10.00hrs, and, needing to be elsewhere by lunchtime, gave me just  a brief window of opportunity to see them, but, happy to say, I was successful. The birds were keeping to the top of a tall tree feeding on the berries of several large clumps of Mistletoe. L


Since the last post I have been pounding the streets in a fruitless search for Waxwings; combing the slopes and woods of the downs with my newly refurbished binoculars; taking notice of the emerging flora; been staring at my telescope and tripod thinking that it is about time that they are given an outing; and have run the MV trap in the garden (with limited, but welcome success). Bird-wise it has been quiet. There are still very low numbers of thrushes and finches about (although this superb Fieldfare decided to hang around for a photo-shoot) and I have to admit that it has been disheartening at times. Of course, there have been highlights, with 180 Skylarks still hanging on in the Canons Farm stubble; a gathering of 2,000 Woodpigeons on Ranmore Common, most of which arrived during the first hour of daylight from the south; and three Brambling discretely tucked into a Chaffinch flock at the latter location. On the plant front the usual winter-flowering suspects have been seen, with on


This Little Egret was being faithful to a back channel of the Hogsmill at Ewell My 2024 birding year has just celebrated being a fortnight old and so far has not set any proverbial cats among any proverbial pigeons. There have been one or two 'moments' but by and large the rewards have been modest. All efforts have been close to home, with visits having been made to Banstead Downs, Epsom Downs, Headley Heath, Banstead Heath, Canons Farm, Rushett Farm, the River Hogsmill at Ewell and the wooded slopes of Bramblehall and Juniper (close to Boxhill). It has been very quiet, with few thrushes and finches. Each and every winter is different and this particular winter just seems to be having an ornithological snooze - there will be parts of the country full of birds, but just not in this particular corner of Surrey. Highlights? A couple of sizeable Redpoll flocks and a count of 255 Skylarks at Canons Farm that were hunkered down in the large stubble fields on the southern boundary. Wi

Welcome back!

In November 2005 I purchased a pair of Swarovski 10x42 EL binoculars from The London Camera Exchange shop in Guildford, for the then princely sum of £899. These bins have served me well, with almost daily use in all types of weather, testing their durability to the maximum - salt water spray, deluges of rain, 38C temperatures, dust, dirt, slight knocks... and apart from the armour coating that had started to bubble and come away from the body, nothing to be alarmed about. Then, in the summer of 2022, I noticed that I had a problem when close focusing - the outer focusing wheel would lose grip and it would take me an age to regain a middle-ground distance of focus - plus, over the next few weeks this outer focusing wheel became loose. I resorted to the use of tape to keep it all in place, but realised that I had to do something about it in the long run. For a while I did consider buying a new pair - after all, they were then 17-years old - but they were still optically superb. It seemed