Waxwings; a true herald of winter and one of the most superior birds to grace our shores during the colder months. Providing a bright spark of beauty and elegance that is guaranteed to perk up even the most damp and dark mid-winter days, these charismatic favourites have swept across the nation’s berry bushes in a frantic feeding frenzy akin to a swarm of locusts – no berry has been left unscathed and it seems no town has been without their very own wax-tipped winged wonders.
With spectacular eye patterns to rival the make-up of even the most stylish of Geishas, these glamorous punk-haired visitors seem to time their sporadic stopovers to Britain just right, leaving the perfect gap between invasion years in order to truly make an impact when they arrive.
With a Waxwing irruption of impressive proportions taking place this winter, it was only natural that we would eventually stumble across these splendid Scandinavian visitors for ourselves, and along with going to see several known birds, I was lucky enough to find three different flocks myself over the course of the season.
Having been surprised by our first group whilst walking around Brickfields Pond in Rhyl with Alex just after Christmas, I located further individuals elsewhere in Rhyl a couple of weeks later on the Dyserth Road, followed by a surprising and rather late count of over 50 birds in my hometown of Northwich while walking home from work last Monday.
Hearing their distinctive high pitched tinkle-bell trilling, I was amazed to look up and find a vast flock staring back at me, erupting from the playground trees and swirling overhead in a whirlwind of reds and yellows before disappearing over the nearby buildings. Having been desperately watching out of my garden window every winter in the hopes of spotting this most sought after of visitors joining the usual Redwings and Fieldfares avidly devouring the frost coated apples on the lawn, finding my very own local flock was the next best thing.
The sheer abundance of Waxwings over the past few months has inevitably resulted in fantastic photographic opportunities to capture the incredible beauty of these winter visitors, and the flock in Rhyl proved to be particularly photogenic as they flitted through patches of trees in a nearby housing estate.
With spring marching on and the weather getting decidedly warmer, it’s now only a matter of time before our Scandinavian beauties depart for another couple of years, taking with them their charming wind chime-like trills and flashy wing flicks, leaving a nation of deserted, stripped bare berry bushes in their wake.