|Waxwings in sunshine|
|Best shot in the rain|
I spent the next few minutes deleting previously taken waxwing silhouettes, but by the time I was ready, the rain had increased and the light had faded even more. I managed one or two extreme close ups, beautifully filling the frame, but alas, the images when I got home were in soft focus, and not in any way sharp.
When my wife and I arrived on New Year’s Day, my spirits sank as I viewed the scene. Cars were filling the available official parking where I stopped the previous day; cars were even parked on double yellow lines. At the far end of the cars, there was a knot of people very close indeed to where the waxwings had been hopping down to feed the previous day. With my binoculars, I could just make out a few sitting in the poplars. I suggested to my wife that I might as well walk down and join the crowd to see if I could get a distant shot or two of the birds in the poplars. I asked her to give me ten minutes.
|Waxwing in sunshine|
|Waxwings waiting to feed in poplars|
Just over ten years ago, I was doing some work in Sherwood Forest. While I was there, a Cedar Waxwing, the American cousin of our Bohemian Waxwing, was found to have joined a population in Nottingham estimated at some six hundred birds. The population had split up into a number of smaller feeding flocks which dashed about the city, spending usually no more than five minutes on a source of berries before flying off to another feeding site. By ringing Birdline, a telephone line with a recorded message giving the whereabouts of interesting birds, I found out the places where the Cedar Waxwing had been seen. I made a decision to go to a particular source of berries, and to wait.
There were several birders at the site when I arrived, and their prognosis could scarcely have been more depressing. Yes, it had been seen in a flock of perhaps a hundred and fifty birds an hour previously, but as soon as the bird of the moment had been found, off they all went. More often than not, a flock of waxwings is heard before it is seen. Waxwings sound like rather soft trim phones. They are not as loud as that other trim phone triller, the Bee Eater. It was perhaps after two hours of standing in the cold, and with eyes and ears hyper alert that a flock of about sixty birds arrived to feed. It circled the bushes several times, and the Cedar Waxwing was located. It differs very little from its European cousins, however I saw enough of it to be convinced I had had adequate views of the star bird of the moment. On that occasion, the flock did not even land, but I felt a warm and satisfying glow as I returned to my car, and drove south towards home.