Dave Kilbey Photography

Waxwings at long last (well, one anyway)

Posted by Dave Kilbey on Wednesday 02 March 2011 at 8:45am

After months of very successfully managing to miss every waxwing that has graced Wiltshire with its presence I finally managed to catch up with one this weekend.  And it really was just one. 

Waxwing eating berry by Dave Kilbey

For days, flocks of between 50 and 90 had been descending on berry bushes in West Swindon but in the thick of this period of activity I sat for hours and watched nothing but empty bushes.  I checked every tall tree for signs and scrutinised each aerial in the vicinity but each was distinctly deficient in waxwings.
Not one to admit defeat readily I returned several days running and it seemed that my remarkable track record with missing waxwings was set to continue indefinitely.  In what has been one of the best years I can remember for these handsome birds it appeared I would fail even to see one, let alone photograph any.  With spring already here I felt this could be my last chance.  On the cusp of giving up, my dogged persistence paid off (for once) and I happened upon a lone bird peering inquisitively at me from within a bush.  An obliging subject he (or she) stuck around for several hours but normally always in areas where it was difficult to see clearly - shrubs are lovely things but with all those branches they’re poorly designed for photography :o)

Waxwing by Dave Kilbey

What struck me most about this punk-crested, Scandinavian vagrant was its tolerance: of people, loud noises and more worryingly, several rather interested cats.  Not lacking alertness it kept tabs on all of us but appeared to take everything in its stride; preening and feeding intermittently.  I’ve rarely spent time with a bird that’s been as relaxed around people as this (apart from “Mrs B” - the imaginatively named, tame female blackbird in the back garden) and it’s an experience that always brings a smile to my face. I wonder how long it will be before I have the chance to see another?

Waxwing by Dave Kilbey

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