Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Waxing lyrical about Hoar Frost

[Stop press...... the waxwing flock is up to 500 by the 11th December, and I saw about 16 flying over Upper Street in Kingsdown]

At last Waxwings have returned to B&Q at Folkestone, to the same trees in which they perched in December two years ago. This morning there were a dozen and by lunchtime the numbers had doubled - new travels fast. They don't seem as voracious as the last flock, spending most of the time in the tall trees, only dropping down to harvest the bright red berries occasionally.
The twitching crowd was only three strong, presumably because there are other irruptive flocks nearby - at Hythe, Sandwich, Broadstairs.... common as muck, but quite beautiful. That would be the birds, not the twitchers.
A fellow blogger of a quite different class tells the story of how Waxwings have a 'super-efficient liver' to cope with the effects of fermented berries. This may explain why the birds are happy hanging around dodgy areas of towns, near supermarkets.
Up in the hills Jack Frost had spread a hoar frost on the trees, clinging to every surface, turning this silver birch into a, well, silver birch. Narnia came to mind.
A little research indicates that this was advection frost or wind frost, clinging only to the windward side of each stem as the cold wind laid particles of ice on anything in its way.
As the day warmed up (comparatively) the ice started to melt, falling out of the trees in showers.


Greenie said...

Steve ,
Brilliant shots of the Waxwings , am very envious .
Wish I had thought of the 'nut' comment on mine .

Anonymous said...

11.30, just after the rain stopped there were 44 today. First time I'd seen them, stunning.

Kingsdowner said...

Fred, I assume that comment is made "nut in cheek".

Vanessa, glad you got to see them - extrordinary how the numbers vary.

Mary said...

These are gorgeous! YOu got much better shots than I did of the waxwings. They've been stripping my crab apple tree, but I can't get in a nice clear spot to get photos. Yours look beautiful against the snow and with the red berries.