Monday, 6 February 2017

Roger Lever - Waxwing Winter

Waxwings are one of our most beautiful winter visitors. They arrive usually from Scandinavia or Russia in October on the east coast and work their way inland and south through to March.

In Dumfries and Galloway we often see them between November to January and in flocks of 20-50 birds, occasionally more.

They are attracted to trees with plenty of berries, usually Hawthorn, Rowans and Cotoneaster.
In December word soon got around via 'twitcher jungle news ' about a flock of birds feeding heavily on the bright yellow berries on a single ornamental Rowan tree near Heathhall.

When I arrived early that frosty morning there were nearly as many photographers as waxwings. The waxwings had a sort of routine whereby they would arrive in a big flock, perch on a nearby tree and then visit the berry clusters in ones and two's before taking off en mass across Heathhall I assume to another tree full of berries. They would then return some 15-20 minutes later. Just what the signals were passing between the birds I don't know but there was a definite coordinated response. They appeared to ignore our collection of green clad birders with big lenses attached to tripods pointing skyward into their 20ft tree at the side of the road.

This was my first ever real chance at getting a half decent image of one of these wonderful little birds. As luck would have it I did have my camera with me that day.

I joined the crowd and hoisted my long lens. One hour later I was happily driving home with a bunch of images I couldn’t wait to look at on my computer.

Needless to say there would have been thousands of photos taken during the period it took the birds to strip the tree bare of its berries which I guess would have been about 1 week. The weather conditions couldn’t have been better with early frosts and a bright blue cloudless sky. I was happy with my results but there must have been many outstanding images taken that week.

Roger Lever
Lever Photography

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