Waxwings and windy walks

This morning, I decided to go and twitch the two waxwings that are present on Richmond Park Road in Handsworth. I’d taken a day off to go for a walk, but thought this would be a worthy detour.

I got up to Handsworth at about 9.10am, not really knowing if I’d even see them, thinking that the good hour round trip on the bus would be a depressing waste of time if I didn’t. I walked round the corner, past Asda and the busy driving test centre, with the street relatively busy with people going about their business, it seemed a very odd place to come and find a rare and interesting bird.

I walked up the road, scanning everything remotely berry-like for the feasting waxwings, and before long my heart was in my mouth as I heard the quiet, tinkling bell-like call of a waxwing! I looked around, just to see two waxwings fly from the rowan trees outside Furniture World, over my head, and disappear into a large tree some way off in a private back garden.

I hung around for about half an hour waiting for them to come back. Five redwings and two fieldfares flew in and out of the same tree feeding off the berries, seemingly just to toy with me and get my hopes up every time I saw one of them land! After a while, however, I began to feel very self conscious hanging round a busy street corner, and decided to be on my way.

It’s a welcome life tick, but a very disappointing view! Hopefully I’ll get chance for a better look at some point.

So then it was back to the original plan, a walk to Redmires, up to Stanage Pole, and back through Wyming Brook. Some of you may have already seen the flaw in this plan – that is today’s gale-force weather warning isn’t really fitting with a tramp through open moorland, and I didn’t fully realise this until it was too late!

Redmires didn’t have much on it, apart from a couple of lapwings on the dredged reservoir and some long-tailed tits flitting about. Walking up the path to Stanage Pole, I was scanning the conifers in the plantation for crossbills, but with no luck. In fact the only three birds I saw all the way up there were a red grouse tottering about, a single coal tit, and a carrion crow, although to be fair anything flying about in this wind would have been a bloody fool of a bird.


And then, as soon as I got past the plantation, I realised the degree to which the trees had been shielding me from the wind. As Stanage Pole got nearer, it was as if the moors themselves had come to life, and decided that they didn’t want me there. I was literally struggling against the wind, eyes streaming, and I finally battled my way to the Pole. My plan was to take a few pictures of the view and sit and eat my sandwich, but getting anything of my bag or pockets would have meant they’d have blown away to who knows where, and so I simply turned around and walked back.

Not one of my best ideas.

Wyming Brook was also quite devoid of birds, in fact all I really saw were a bullfinch, some long-tailed tits and a treecreeper. I was hoping to get yearticks for nuthatch and dipper there… it’s the first time I’ve dipped a dipper at Wyming Brook!


There was a good few fieldfares, redwings and mistle thrushes in the fields on Redmires Road as I walked back, but nothing more of note. It was a good walk, and the cobwebs got blown away, but it was a strange old day of birding!


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My name is Pete

3 thoughts on “Waxwings and windy walks”

  1. Pete,

    Just wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your wildlife posts – meant to wander over at Offbeat and congratulate you on the interesting posts you put up.

    I particularly sympathised with this post – I often go walking from our House in Crookes out along Rivelin valley and around the Redmires / Wyming Brook area – and I’m often thwarted by poor weather meaning i don’t really see much out of the ordinary in the way of nature !

    Anyway keep on posting – I look forwards to reading your updates.


  2. Cheers, Grant!

    Wyming Brook’s one of those places where I either see loads of good stuff or absolutely nothing – sadly that day it was the latter. Have seen loads of dippers and nuthatches there in the past, and got great views of pied flycatcher during the summer.

  3. I was gazing out of my living room window at 9am this morning when a flock of about 100 waxwings settled in three trees in front of my house in Totley. They flitted from tree to tree for about 5 minutes before departing. This is the first time I have seen waxwings in Totley.
    What a lovely sight!

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