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I am a keen birder living in Glasgow. I am fascinated by all things avian, and watch birds wherever I happen to be, whether it is my garden, in the borders of which I have seen 31 species, or in the midst of the glorious scenery of the Scottish Highlands. There are always spectacular birds to be seen. And, just when you think you have seen it all, something incredible jumps out at you. That is one of the great joys of birdwatching: there is always something more to be seen.
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Waxwing Encounter

Posted Wednesday 25th January 2017 at 21:53 by Jonathan Mitchell
It took 4 years, 22 days, 2 hours, and 20 minutes, but I have done it at last. At 16:10 today, I had my second ever encounter with a Waxwing.

In 2012, when I was relatively new to birdwatching, I came across their page in my book, and from that moment on I wanted to see one. When I saw in the papers in November that it was an invasion year, I became obsessed with them. I lived and breathed Waxwings, and could think of nothing else for weeks on end. I had only ever seen them in books, but I thought that they were the most beautiful birds on the entire planet.

Every bird I saw was suspected of being a Waxwing, until, of course, I looked at it and proved that it was not. This was true up until the 3rd of January 2013, when, on the way to my local supermarket, I saw a bird in the trees to my left at 13:50. It had a large, prominent crest. A Waxwing!

My brief experience with these fantastic birds lasted only 10 minutes, but I remember every detail like it was yesterday. The birds were even more beautiful and incredible than I could ever have imagined. I had Waxwings above my head, and I had Waxwings in front of my face. There were 9 of them in all. Although we were separated by a 12-foot fence, the birds were remarkably tame. I could observe every little detail of their plumage, including those waxy red tips for which they are named. It was simply brilliant.

Every year after that, I have eagerly waited to see whether the winter will be a "Waxwing winter," although knowing that it could well be 20 years until they invaded the UK in such numbers as in 2012/13. This winter is the first since in which reasonable numbers have arrived, although not quite in plague proportions. Since late October, I have been searching each and every shrub, bush, or tree with berries near me daily.

And, of course, it paid off. I left the house this afternoon and crossed the road to go through a little green pathway between my street and the next. A bird flew out of the berry -bearing bushes to my left into a Goat Willow. I turned and stopped in my tracks. Like my first, I saw it in silhouette, but the crest was distinctive. I stood still and watched it for 2 or 3 minutes, awestruck. I just couldn't believe that I had finally found another one. It was a lone bird, but I didn't care about that. Eventually, it flew over my head and out of sight, uttering that beautiful trill, like a little bell ringing. It made my day!

So, it took 4 years, 22 days, 2 hours, and 20 minutes, but the wait was worth every second. And I will wait, no matter how long it takes, until my next encounter with the greatest bird in the world.
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