Caught by the River

Matt's Bird of the Week – Waxwing

Matt Sewell | 31st January 2011

Bombycilla garrulus by Matt Sewell.

I’ve always been sceptical whether these birds exist or not, Waxwings blow my mind. They’re like a computer generated samurai finch designed by a norse god. Those little red waxy droplets are amazingly improbable, their fade colourway and their menacing headwear and dark warpaint are too bewilderingly accomplished to be the product of evolution.
Every autumn brings another chance of spotting a Waxwing and this year it felt like it was gonna be my time. Especially after getting involved in the quagmire that is twitter. The amount of spotting info, maps and all kind of esoteric waxwing knowledge that would pop up in front of my eyes made me feel like i was the only bunny in the warren that had not had a Waxwing eating juniper berries out of his hand.
Time passed on, no waxwings, but arriving in Shrewsbury for our christmas holiday we were enlightened to the fact that only the day before 30 had descended onto the rowan bush in the back garden and had a feeding frenzy for 10 minutes. They obviously weren’t planning on coming back, stripping the the bush clean, much to the dismay of the part albino Blackbird that had been protecting that bush all year round. I hopefully kept my vigil but they never did come back, but just as we were leaving I got a shout and ran up to the window to see the silhouette of three or four waxwings scrambling away. Annoyingly, in that nanosecond i couldn’t make out the waxdrops or the headdress but i was assured they were in fact Waxwings, so im chalking that one up. And anyway there is always next year.