14th November 2010 – Marvellous Mandarin, and finding Waxwings everywhere!

How embarrassing, twitching a drake Mandarin… the shame of it. Oh well, I wasn’t doing much anyway, and a county tick is a county tick. So off to Penrith and the exciting location of Gilwilly Industrial Estate. Thacka Pond to be precise – not to be confused with Thacka Flash (which I did confuse it with). It’s actually quite a good ‘pond’, lots of vegetation to hide amongst, and an initial scan revealed only a few Mallards milling about. Then out of the reeds swam my quarry – get in, county tick number 252! It was very nervous and extremely wary, blah blah blah, and no sooner had I raised my bins to admire it, then it quickly swam back into cover again. Not exactly the most exciting county tick I’ve ever had, but probably one of the most colourful. And here it is.

On the way to the Mandarin we stumbled upon a flock of about 85 Waxwings on the outskirts of Penrith, flying around over the junction of the A592 Ullswater Road and Skirsgill Gardens. They landed in some trees but it was difficult to stop on this busy road, so I only managed to grab a couple of record shots. Tracy took the bottom one.

In fact I’m finding Waxwings virtually every day at the moment – on six occasions this week alone! First of all I found 50+ along West Walls in Carlisle after finishing my shift on the 9th. These birds have then been reported by several others during the week. Then on the 11th I found about 180 in a tree outside the sex shop (!!!) on London Road, Carlisle (Honestly I wasn’t visiting the sex shop!). The next day a calling bird flew over the bus station in Carlisle, and later on the same day about 20 were feeding on berries near the Stagecoach Depot at Willowholme after I’d finished my shift – I always thought I’d see Waxwings here! And then onto today (14th), with the flock of 85 in Penrith, then another 20 back in Carlisle at the junction of London Road and Petteril Bank Road. Not bad going.

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