I don't like to do things the easy way so when I got to Swalwell instead of taking my usual route past Shibdon Pond and straight through to the shopping centre and station (5 mins?) I decided to go along the cycle route and check out the Tyne which should bring me out behind the station. Somehow I got lost (twice) and managed to add half an hour onto my journey and as no waxwings were present when I did get there, cycled back and forth along a busy town centre looking very suspicious dressed all in black and sporting binoculars (especially to those peering at me out of MacDonalds).
Getting a bit pee'd off after another half hour had passed without results, looked at my clock and decided to give it another five minutes, and hey presto, the unmistakeable loose bounding formation of 100 + waxwings suddenly appeared in trees 200 yds away (where I had been just minutes earlier)
So I spent the next forty minutes following them around as they fed then rested, fed then rested, getting some glorious view-filling sights as they sped past me to their next roost, jingling sound filling the air, yellow tailbands like rear lights in the gloom. I couldn't get close enough for any decent photos in the poor light but got some group shots from various angles before just taking pleasure in watching them preen, squabble, and eat. Magnificent birds, just can't get enough of them.
I took my leave eventually, and spotted another group of 23 by the entrance to Blaydon cemetery, though the journey home was a bit of a nightmare after that. I haven't been on such a long ride for yonks and my fitness (or lack of it) started to tell on the way back as I was also up against a mostly uphill track and an increasingly strong wind. I took advantage of every stopping point I could think of, got good views of a grey wagtail and dipper at the damhead, but stepped in some dogs**t (a really massive one as well) as I walked with my bike, then as I stopped to search a finch flock around Kite Hill got into an argument with some dogowners when their four mutts attacked me without even so much as an apology.
Six red kites and a buzzard were viewed from the viaduct, then the final slog home and a nice cup of earl grey as I downloaded my photos to discover 163 waxwings in one frame, and I didn't get all of them so the number must be approaching 200 by now!
|About the closest I got, a tad gloomy to say the least|
|If you can be bothered to count, there are 163 waxwings|
in this photo
|A nice group shot showing a bit of their handsome plumage|
|And a bit closer shows crest, face mask, wings and tail colours,|
So anyway my estimated two-hour trip eventually took a huge chunk out of my day, but was it worth it? you betcha!