Thursday, 29 November 2012

Standing on the corner

It's not every day I get to hang out on a street corner with three blokes, but this morning I did just that. Me and Rocky were bimbling around the village when we came across this motley crew. They had very expensive looking cameras with massive lenses pointing into the sky, and they were standing around waiting. I don't know why they didn't bring some fold up chairs with them. I had to ask what they were looking for. Yes, I know they were bird spotting, see quick off the mark aren't I, ha ha.
Well the story is they have come from Grimsby, they were here yesterday, and have come back today hoping for more sightings. Twitchers take their hobby very seriously apparently, they will happily travel from one side of the country to the other, just because they have heard there might be a glimpse of a rare bird in the area. They are hoping to get some good pictures of Waxwings.
While I was standing with them, being nosey as usual, they pointed out a small flock flying overhead. There they are. Ah yes, I couldn't get a photo with my little compact, they swooped off quite quickly. They told me that Waxwings come here to over winter from Scandinavia, they come for the berries. Well that's something new I have learnt today. Fascinating stuff.
Look at the size of the lenses.
Absolutely huge. I asked how much they cost to buy, and was staggered when they said £3,000 for the camera and £5,000 for the lens. Flipping heck, then they have to buy the tripod because it is so heavy.
These chaps stand around all day bird spotting, they must be very dedicated. After 20 minutes I was stamping my feet to try and keep warm, time to move on. Here is a picture of a Waxwing.

Isn't it pretty. And here is a short vid of one feeding on berries.

Here is a bit of info from the RSPB web site.
Waxwings (Bombycillidae)

The waxwing is a plump bird, which is slightly smaller than a starling. It has a prominent crest. It is reddish-brown with a black throat, a small black mask round its eye, yellow and white in the wings and a yellow-tipped tail. It does not breed in the UK, but is a winter visitor, in some years in larger numbers, called irruptions, when the population on its breeding grounds gets too big for the food available.

Where to see them
The first British arrivals each winter are usually seen on the east coast from Scotland to East Anglia, but birds move inland in search of food, increasing the chances of seeing one inland.

When to see them
October to March.

What they eat
Berries, particularly rowan and hawthorn, but also cotoneaster and rose.

Amazing isn't it. You learn something new every day. By the way, this has got nothing to do with money saving, or frugality, or being tight, or making something out of rubbish, or cheap cooking, or crafty stuff. I like to cover any topic I feel like, then I don't get bored writing it and you don't get bored reading it.
Toodle pip.


  1. Good heavens! I would be terrified to cart all that expensive camera equipment outside. I'd drop it I'm sure :o Rocky makes me smile the way he poses for you. My dog would be off before I got the chance to take the pic.

  2. What a lovely bird. Thanx for posting the video.

  3. I love waxwings! They are a summer bird here,they eat berries in the trees by our spring fed pond,so I always spend some time watching for them.
    I'd be terrified to be anywhere near that camera in case I knocked it over.
    Jane x

  4. That's amazing! My Dad's a bit of a twitcher, but he doesn't have to go very far. He peers out of the kitchen window for hours though! We get all sorts in our garden, from woodpeckers to pheasants to a huge variety of tits and finches. Oh, and doves, which he calls "dovelies". :)

    I think I would be nervous having £8000 worth of kit with me too! That lens looks like a telescope it's so big!

  5. Yes, those lenses are very pricey, we have a bird watcher next door and he has photographed snowy owls and american eagles.
    Rocky looks so funny getting in on the act !

  6. I love reading about the people you bump into when you are out and about,from twitchers to tv stars - never a dull moment :)

  7. I love Rocky. He is sitting there looking so long suffering!
    By the way Ilona I am taking your advice about building a porch. The idea had been in my mind. It can be a place for waterproofs and wellies too.

  8. Hj Ilona,
    I was going to tell you about waxwings that reach as far as Cornwall - but then I checked my photos and diary and realised it was a flock of Redwings that I saw. They are like miniature thrushes, with a cream stripe on their head and red flashes on their flanks - a very attractive bird. I could have done with one of those huge lenses to photograph them, but it wouldn't slip into my coat pocket like my little Samsung digital!!!

  9. Over here in the frozen north ( Edmonton, Alberta) we see lots of waxwings. The huge flocks swoop down and eat all the cherries and the berries from Mayday amd Mountain Ash trees -- even when it is -35*C !!!!


  10. Hi Ilona,

    We have seen the chap on the end with the expensive camera and lens over at the RSPB reserve at Sandy in Bedfordshire when he was there trying to get photos of an English Crossbill and he was saying he takes the photos then sells them either on line to anyone that is interested or he sells the photos to bird and wildlife magazines which helps recoup the money from the cost of the camera,lens, tripod,petrol etc.He did say that the equipment is very heavy but finds it is worth it to gte the fantastic photos which he showed us on the little screen at the back of the camera. Some of the birders even have blogs of the birds they have tracked down ...

    Two years ago England was inundated with Waxwings and we finally got to see our first ones in car park of Pets at Home feeding like mad on Rowan berries.They were so close we could practically touch them and all the kids were fasinated by them.

    Evidently for the last couple of years the Waxwings have had a good breeding season in Scandanavia but the berry crop has failed so they have all flocked here,but unfortunatley our berries are not doing any good here either because of the wet summer so they are desperate for food to keep them alive...

    We have planted lots of Pyrancantha bushes that we planted in our garden a few years ago and the Redwings and Feildfares love them in the deepest winter along with rotting apples we put out and a couple of years ago we did get a single Waxwing visit our garden and i managed to get a photo of it before it took off....

    Many thanks for the video,it was enjoyable to watch and hope you didn't get too cold from standing around...


    1. Hi Wendy, if you mean the chap on the right in the distinctive outfit, I asked him about selling his photo's. He was a bit vague, probably thought I was being a bit too nosey, ha ha. I had a look through the lens of his camera and it brought up the branches of the tree across the road really close.

  11. I enjoy reading all your posts, especially when you are out and about meeting people, it always make me giggle how you see things or people doing stuff and you just stop to ask what they are up to, I wish I were that confident. Great post x

  12. Hi Ilona, I'll be keeping a lookout for Waxwings now when I am out and about. They certainly enjoy their berries, the way they were knocking them back in the video. Look a little like Angry Birds. I received a post the other day that told me that discarded chewing gum is often eaten by birds who mistake it for pieces of bread, in the end killing them which is very sad. I don't eat gum and if I did I would discard it in a bin. Shame on the idiots who just chuck it on the ground. As one of the replies on the post said, we should ban gum like in Singapore. The local Council has a machine that blasts gum off the pavements but I very rarely see it being used. Thanks for the informative post. Cheers for now, Christy.

  13. I love this post Ilona, thankyou so much for the video, that was amazing watching that tiny bird down the berries in one go, I wouldn't have thought he would have had a big enought tummy to hold all those.
    Keep warm

  14. Good afternoon Ilona, those little birds must be feeling quite warm with their feathers.
    I hope you are not cold in your home?

    In my home at the moment it is 18.8C so quite cool. The cost of heating has to be considered carefully. We have our CH on for 3 hours a day.
    Then it is down to waring a vest, thermal t,shirt and jumper. Moving around...
    Just going to get all the washing back in. x2 wash loads today. That's family's...
    I love putting the clothes out on the line, although I can only expect it to be half dry when I fetch it in. I try and think positive, half dry is better than totally wet.Ha, ha.

    We have a coal fire too, but have not lit it today.
    Is your CH on Ilona?

    Sending good wishes for the last day in November...

  15. Oh dear should have said from House Fairy.

  16. Gosh Ilona, here's something I know a lot about. My other half is one of the nations' expert birdwatchers, who has been lucky enough to make a career out of it, he has been running a national twitcher's magazine for 21 years now. He has the lenses and everything. So do I in fact, only smaller ones, and do 'twitch' as well, but not as obsessively as he does, i.e. I won't kill myself if I miss something. It's a really funny old world, the world of twitching, you think of all these gentle little birdwatchers with their scopes and bins (telescopes and binoculars) and really it's not like that at all, it's a dog eat dog world with them, some of the stories I could tell you would make you die laughing. And mine hubby is also one of these professional bird photographers, but I can clarify right now that they don't make any money out of it, certainly not enough to recoup the cost of those lenses, it's literally £10 here and there if they're lucky. With my hubbys mag, they don't get paid for pictures at all, they are just glad to see themselves in print. Yes, I agree, why don't they bring chairs, it's baffled me for years, because there's a lot of standing about for hours on end, so I bought myself a little fisherman's tripod stool for those occasions. Doesn't seem to be catching on though. But then again I'm a woman, I can think, and most of these twitchers are men....Anything at all you want to know about twitching, I'm your man!...or woman

  17. That's amazing Sue, thank you so much for your comment. I didn't think anyone would be interested in the subject when I posted. Just goes to show, people have hidden talents. I can just imagine the stories, men are so competitive, they hate to be beaten, ha ha. I wonder why there aren't more women into it? Have to admit though, I can't find anything to get excited about.

  18. What a beautiful bird.
    Love from Mum


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