For the past few weeks I’ve been in such a wintery mood. I’m so excited for Christmas and have been itching to get outside into nature and see some new faces. A particularly exciting winter sighting this week has been the arrival of waxwings in my local town. I’ve been lucky enough to see them three times so far. I just love watching them gobble up the berries and seeing their crests blow in the wind.
Around the size of starlings, waxwings are winter visitors to Britain, arriving from as far away as Russia to spend the season feasting on berries in the UK. Although populations fluctuate each year, there are often gatherings of hundreds of waxwings, which are called irruptions. So far I’ve seen two so it’s been a slow start to the season, but even seeing a pair at close range is special. Before this week, I’d only seen waxwings once before and they were far off in the distance. This time, I could approach carefully and watch them right above my head.
This month I’ve also been looking for other winter specialists. I started a species list for the first time this year and so far I’ve recorded 114 birds, 29 mammals, two amphibians and two fish. And with seventeen days of 2020 to go there’s still plenty of time to tick off a few more! I’m particularly hoping to see mountain hares, snow buntings, fieldfares and maybe a ptarmigan if I’m really lucky. This weekend I tried to find my first mountain hares and snow buntings from the base station of Cairngorm Mountain but didn’t manage it. Still, these near misses will make eventually seeing them even more special. Who knows, maybe I’ll get to see mountain hares on my birthday on the 28th. That would be an incredible present!