Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Wonderful Waxwings

Sunday, the 9th of January, will be a day I’ll remember.

This winter has seen an unusually large number of Waxwings in the country. The term used is an ‘irruption’, I believe.
I call it, ‘bloody amazing’. Reports up and down the country of large and small numbers of these beautiful birds; there’s sure to be, or have been, some near you.

Our local Tesco car park, at Bletchley, played host to a large flock, for a few days prior to my visit on Sunday. A lot of local birders had been to see them, and take pictures, so I thought I should make the effort too.

A frosty start to the day, with the promise of sun later; perfect.

I set off to my local lake first, topped up the seed on the little bridge, then went to the shops.

I parked the car in a deserted car park, and waited. I wasn’t sure how many would be here, if at all, or when they would arrive, or where they would settle.

It was just beginning to get light, and the first wave of 40 or more birds noisily arrived, and settled in a tree, just along from where I was parked. Almost immediately, another large group arrived, and joined them.

They sat chattering in the tree, and then suddenly all took to the air, as more birds swirled in to join the growing numbers.
It reminded me of a Starling roost. Groups of birds would break off, fly around, and then regroup, and finally settle in one or two trees.

I was in danger of filling up my memory card in the camera; I was taking so many pictures.

There must have been a couple of hundred altogether. A fantastic sight to see. I stayed for a couple of hours, and as the sun rose, it was even more spectacular.

An angry Mistle Thrush was frantically guarding ‘his’ tree, from these ‘invaders’, and calling for reinforcements.

Four more reinforcements soon arrived, and the car park became the setting for lots of flying around, and positioning.

Plenty of pictures taken, but none really special. No amazing close ups, no berry juggling, no hanging upside down……..just lots of shots from an amazing morning, spent in the company of amazing birds.

Waxwing invasion from holdingmoments on Vimeo.

As an interesting footnote to this, one of the birds I got a picture of, had at least two coloured rings visible on the right leg; red over white. It seems this bird may have been ringed, with quite a few others, in Aberdeen, Scotland, between late October and late November. 
A distance of about 350 miles, (564.76km), in their search for food across the UK.

I’ll never moan about having to walk to the local shops again, for a loaf of bread.

For more great birds, click the picture below


  1. Your so lucky Keith. I have never seen one yet.
    That Mistle Thrush had a job on didn't he.

  2. Roy, it was an amazing sight to see so many.
    That poor Mistle Thrush was fighting a losing battle lol

  3. Superb Keith, the last two shots are fantastic.

  4. HOW COOL Love the wax wings...you got some fab photos against the blue sky too. Enjoyed the vid very much

  5. Thanks Adrian. I did manage a few like those, but just enjoying the whole experience was worth a thousand pictures.

    Thanks Dixxe. They are such charismatic birds.

  6. Absolutely amazing Keith. What a great start to the day. I doubt you will ever experience that again.

  7. Fantastic to see so many of those birds together. Great photos showing the large numbers.

  8. A fantastic sight Keith. Like Roy I have never seen one as yet.

  9. I get so excited to see 10 or so of these marvelous birds but to see 100's of them together must have been like a dream. Beautiiful pictures.

  10. Lucky you !!!!!! Am terribly jealous right now Keith !!! ;)
    Cuddles for Jim !

  11. Hi Keith, Have seen scenes like this before, they come for the Mountain Ash berries and other fruits that are still in the trees here. I have also seen this with Grossbeaks. Lovely sight to see. Great shots by the way.

  12. Wow.......thats all I can say, what a sight, it must have been a wonderful experience. I`m kicking myself that I didn`t know they were there and I spent all day Sunday lazing about at home ;-{

  13. wooow is that great, fantasitc, have a good time, big hugh Kathrin

  14. Thanks Trevor. I think you’re right; I doubt I’ll ever see that many like that again.

    Thank you Mick. It was a great sight to witness. The sheer number of them, and the sound……..awesome!

    John, a sight I’ll always remember.

    Thanks Becky. It was just unbelievable. So many in one place.

    Thank you Pescalune. One of my most memorable birding experiences.
    Jim says thanks :)

    Thanks Horst. I never expected to see so many. A real nature special.

    Trevor, it was an experience I’ll never forget. It’s been an amazing winter for these birds.

    Thank you Kathrin. I had a big smile all day :)

  15. Great shots of these little guys, they are so cute.
    I love it when I get to observe the interaction between species such as you did with the thrush.

  16. Hi Keith,
    I'm so happy you saw them and it looks like you are getting even more than us ;-) At least in this tree ;-)
    I found them again today, we had sun, but the sun light is just staying at the top of the tree were our waxwings are not... still got some nice shots....
    I understand what you say, staying there listening to them is just fantastic and it's even better when they start to behave a bit!! A unbelievable joy.... So happy you got to see them!

  17. And I thought we had loads in Cheshire. Looks like Natiure is smiling on you with that lot. Beautiful birds and very well captured.

  18. Thanks Martha. That Thrush wasn't giving up 'his' tree very easily lol
    Great to witness it all.

    Thanks Chris. They are such amazing birds to see, no matter how many, or how many times.

    Thank you Andrew. They've certainly captured the hearts of British birders this winter.

  19. Just seeing them is something isn't it. The Cedars live here in the summer, and I'm almost use to them.But I've never seen a mass like that.Boom & Gary.

  20. Thank you Gary. The numbers were extraordinary. I've seen groups of a dozen before, but never so many in one place.

  21. That looks like an irruption all right! I haven't seen any waxwings around my area lately, sure would love to see something like this!

  22. Thanks Ryan. A fantastic sight to see. Hope you get to see some soon.

  23. Astonishing post. I was watching your video on the big screen and the surround sound filled my home with the sound of the Waxwings and passing cars. Talk about getting immersed in a post. That was crazy cool! ;-)WBW

  24. Oh wow Keith! This is a great magic moment of invasion I think;-)) They are absolute incredible! I wish you a lot of this moments for the rest of the week. Hugs from Luzia.

  25. They talk about a 'bevy' of Larks, so one can probably call this a bevy of Waxwings.
    What an amazing gathering.

  26. Wow, amazing stuff and superbly documented.
    Well done Keith.

  27. Great Waxwings, the last two are my favourites. We had them about a month ago in the Forest of Dean, aren't they fabulous?

  28. It's somehow comforting to know that you shoot hundreds of photos in order to get a few good ones. But your good ones are amazing. These are beautiful birds, and you've managed to get some very nice captures of them. I've never seen such numbers of them in one place.

  29. THat's a lot of waxwing! Wonderfull serie ;)

  30. Wow.. now that's just absolutely incredible. I've only ever seen one solitary waxwing. This collection is just amazing. I'm so happy for you that you got to see them.. and share them. Thank you for that.

  31. Keith, Thank you, thank you, for sharing one of the prettiest birds., the Cedar Waxwing. We have them in summer and mostly see them in fall, filling up on the elderberries, and the mountain ash berries before flying to warmer climes. You are so fortunate to see multitudes of them in winter. Truly enjoyed the video.

  32. Wonderful! Awesome! Amazing! I love these birds. And to think I was excited about seeing 4 of them today! LOL

  33. Incredible to see that many waxwings! Loved the "reinforcements" - lol!!

  34. How cool! Great pictures, that must have been a great experience!

  35. Holy cow, Keith! Amazing...I've never seen a flock that large, and your photos just kept getting better. So glad you were able to experience that... I liked the video as well.

  36. Too cool! I was excited when I saw ONE last year. Too cool.

  37. Thank you for your comments Springman. I bet that was pretty good on the big screen ;)
    Their sound is certainly a delight to hear.

    Thank you Lucy. It was a very special few hours. :)

    Thanks Jo. A great show from these fabulous birds.

    Thank you Bobster. It was a great experience.

    Bob, thank you. There aren’t many birds that seem to captivate people all over the world. Waxwings are certainly up there though.

    Thanks Linda. I did take an awful lot of pictures; many were just the same, but I was so overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of birds, I didn’t want to miss a moment.
    Of course, a lot of pictures were rubbish too lol

    Thank you Dominic. More than I’ve ever seen before. :)

    Hilary, it ranks as one of my best bird experiences, along with the little Robin eating from my hand, the Starling roost, and the baby Blue Tits leaving the nest. It’s amazing to think that such fragile little life forms, can fill us with such amazing pleasure.

    Thank you Dar. Incredible isn’t a word that does the whole experience justice. I doubt I’ll ever see such a sight again.

    Thank you Pam. Even one bird is a joy to see. Such beauties aren’t they.

    Shelley, thank you. That poor Mistle Thrush really had his work cut out defending ‘his’ trees, even when his buddies arrived. lol
    Completley outnumbered. Amazing to see it all happen.

    Thanks Nicole. Yea, one of the best experiences I’ve had.

    Thank you Kelly. Unbelievable numbers. I was gobsmacked! Lol

    Laura, thank you. They seem to be a bird that excites everyone. They just have so much character.

  38. Woah, you definitely got an invasion Keith. Now imagine flocks of literally thousands of those buggers like we have had in years gone by.
    This year funnily enough, and the past 2 or 3, there haven't been anywhere near as many as usual, but great to see that much where you are. Bravo sir !
    Happy New Year to you too matey, and look forward to many many more of your always great blog posts.

  39. Thanks Nick. Thousands? Wow, incredible!

    All the best to you and your family, for 2011 mate.

  40. What a wonderful congregation of birds,
    such comfort to see so many of them at once!

    Congratulations on winning the Post of the Week Award!

    Best wishes,

  41. That is absolutely amazing. I've been looking for Waxwings the last couple of months but haven't had any luck so far. You wouldn't mind sending some of your over to South Wales would you?

  42. Absolutely fantastic - what a group!

  43. wow. what a cool thing to witness...some great shots as well...congrats on the potw...

  44. The birds are as thick as leaves, aren't they? I like how your photos show the progression of the morning light as well. The waxwings are truly magnificent.

  45. Thank you Merisi. It was a great sight to see so many.

    Thank you ladyfi, appreciate your comment :)

    Thanks Adam. Maybe they’ll find their way to you soon?

    Thanks Mark, it certainly was.

    Thank you Brian. It was amazing to see.

    Thanks JoLynne. The sunlight made a big difference to the pictures.

  46. Cheers Frank. A great moment from nature; simply incredible.

  47. I seen many of thes, but not that many. :) It seems like your waxwing has a larger crest then ours. I can udnerstand teh trush. :)

  48. Wow! That is amazing. Congrats on the POTW.

  49. NatureFootstep, thank you. The Thrush was not very happy lol

    Thanks Reb. It certainly was an amazing sight.

  50. What an experience, Keith! I have never seen this bird let alone such amount of them...

    I really like the last but one picture with those two waxwings, it looks like the feather on their heads was shaped by wind. Quite a self-confident haircut... :-)

  51. Thanks Petra. They are a beautiful bird to see; especially in such great numbers.

  52. I have only ever seen one when our neighbor had cherry trees.What an exciting sight! I have never seen so many at once!Thank-you for sharing,am so thankful your buddy Jim is doing well,phylliso

  53. Thank you phylliso, a sight I'll always remember.

    And thanks for the good wishes for Jim :)

  54. I hate to be repetitive but my first thought was...WOW! I have only seen flocks of about 20.Super captures of a very cool bird!

  55. Thanks Jean. It's hard to express in words the sheer thrill of seeing so many special birds like that.

  56. How fantastic Keith.... must have been such an amazing sight and to have blue sky and sun as well - icing on the cake methinks!!

    (so could you send a few down my way please?) :D

  57. No pictures really special? I beg to differ.
    I don't know that I've ever seen a waxwing; they look like an interesting combination of blue jay and female cardinal.
    On Halloween night, I missed a photo op I still regret. We were driving home from Nashville, passed the quintessential haunted house, and there, in a dead tree beside the house, were hundred of crows! They filled all those dead branches and were simply silhouettes in the fresh darkness. If I'd had my wits about me, I would have at least whipped out my camera phone.
    Congrats on POTW!

  58. Couldn't have been better Tricia. Amazing sight and experience.
    I'm sure they'll get to you soon. They seem to be everywhere.

    Ethelmae, thank you. That combination sounds pretty good to me. I like both of those birds ;)
    Missed photo opportunities.....my goodness, I've had a few of those lol

  59. Oh my gosh I can't imagine seeing so many of these beautiful birds all at once. What a wonderful phenomonen. Thank you for sharing. They've always been one of my favorite birds. We once had (a very few) of them in our yard in Oregon (before we sold out)...we were told that this species varies their migration pattern every year, so that was why we never saw them there agian.

    Wow thank you for sharing.

  60. Thank you Sallie, it was a great experience to see so many. :)

  61. That is amazing! I didn't know waxwings would gather in such large groups. I get excited if I even see 1 or 2. I had a few stop by my crab apple tree and I hope they come back to finish it off. Wonderful photos!

  62. Having never seen one, I can't imagine seeing a flock as large as that! Wonderful post Keith!

  63. I love these birds and they come in flocks, along with Robins, to our cedar trees in the winter, to eat the berries. The Robins, however, always outnumber the Waxwings. We don't get as many as this, though! These are great pictures!

  64. Thank you Mary. Yea, a thrill to see just one of these birds, so you can imagine how I felt that morning lol

    Thanks Dave. It certainly was memorable.

    Aleta, thank you. It's a rare treat for us here to see so many in one place.

  65. Awesome sight..... I had 44 in a tree a few years ago at a local B&Q carpark.

    The sundown on the thread before is a lovely image

    I will keep a lookout for your updates


  66. Great stuff! I saw a waxwing flock here a couple of times, but it wasn't nearly as big as this one. Love the photos.

  67. Thanks Dave. There have been some big numbers of these this winter.
    Glad you enjoyed the pictures.

    Thank you Mike. It was a great sight to see so many.

  68. Nice video. I enjoyed hearing the waxwings sing. We had a large group of cardinals do the same thing in our yard a week ago when it was starting to snow. Not near as many as your group, but still, I was impressed by their numbers.

    Lovely photos!

    Congratulations on you POTW!


  69. WOW! What a feast for the eye! Simply amazing, great post.

  70. Oh you lucky s-d, I would love to these these wonderful birds. At least Tesco's car park has more than one use.

  71. Thanks Di. Their singing is very distinctive; great to hear.

    Thank you JM, glad you enjoyed it.

    Thanks Linda. Good to see you again. Hope all's well.

  72. Thanks. very special.

  73. Thank you Anonymous. Appreciate your comment :)

  74. Great post Keith. That must have been an amazing encounter. You got got some excellent shots of the Waxwings. That second to the last one, with the two birds, is fabulous!

  75. Thank you Larry. It was a sight I'll always remember. So many birds together.