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ZEISS DTI thermal imaging cameras. For more discoveries at night, and during the day.

Surprises Through My Zeisses / 1 Waxwings (1 Viewer)


Staff member
You are welcome to join me on this first of a series of articles taking a look back over my shoulder at some sightings that have not only delighted us, but startled and surprised us.

On our rare visits to France we expected 'unexpected' species of birds, butterflies, flowers, and dragonflies etc., almost every day, simply because continental Europe is home to far more species than the small off-shore archipelago we sometimes call Great Britain and Ireland. And that usually proved to be the case, whereas after 50 years of visiting the west of Scotland, we have become quite familiar with most of the local flora and fauna, and genuine surprises come less frequently. They do happen though, and in terms of birds I can recall a Pectoral Sandpiper on the Isle of Mull, a Cory’s Shearwater over The Minch between Skye and the Western Isles, and Little Auks at Kennacraig while waiting for the ferry to Islay. That’s us waiting for the ferry, not the Little Auks.

So nothing quite prepared us for the surprise of seeing a small flock of Waxwings Bombycilla garrulous on a remote point on the west coast of Scotland. Waxwings irregularly visit the UK during some winters, this being dependant on their breeding success in the east, and perhaps, the winter weather there. Over the years we read about flocks of Waxwings being seen around various UK cities, consuming all the tree berries. We even heard of flocks visiting our own city, but never saw any ourselves, until one year in the early 2000’s when we saw 3 Waxwings in our neighbourhood, as I taxied Troubadoris to work one morning.

They were in an exotic cherry tree by the side of the road, eating the berries, but we could only stop briefly to check out their shape, colour and crest before we had to leave. It was an unsatisfactory view consisting more or less of silhouettes. On my way back I looked out for them, but the cherries had disappeared and so had the Waxwings.

However, late in 2010 while we staggering back over a Scottish west coast hill to our cottage, we stopped to listen to unfamiliar bird calls emanating from a small area of wind-sculpted birches and rowans, situated close-by and somewhat below us. After a few moments, to our amazement, a flock of Waxwings appeared, moving from rowan to rowan, eating the plentiful berries as they came, and this time we were looking down on them (me through my Zeiss FL8x42), so they were not just silhouettes against the sky, seen from the car, as they were back in Sheffield.

To say we were surprised and entranced is putting it mildly. Due to all the reports over the years of flocks visiting cities and penetrating right into city centres we had lost sight of the idea of Waxwings roaming the countryside, and here they were in one of the wildest and most remote of locations and habitats and, what’s more, they were not startled by us and didn’t fly away. We watched them for a good long time, taking in not only their famous crest, but also the sealing-wax red of the wing coverts, and the intense yellow band across the tip of the tail, and then crept away and left them to their foraging. What a delightful and unexpected sight, and such a special moment to enjoy with the FLs.

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Another engaging narrative. It is such experience sharing that makes visiting the forums worth the while.
Look forward to the next edition

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