Monday, 6 May 2013

Waxwing lyrical part 38 - and then there were 9

I still haven't had the proper lie-in that I have been promising myself for the past 3 months but I should be able to any day now. I was up at daft o'clock again today to see how many Waxwings would arrive and as the post title has already indicated there were only 9. Just before sunrise has been the best time to count the Waxwings as they generally sit up in the trees before coming down to feed and that now means being up just after 5:00am. I have gone back to bed for an hour our two after counting them on a couple of occasions but those have been very rare exceptions.

It is clear from the weight data I have gathered when ringing the birds that reaching the right weight is key to the timing of their departure. That weight may vary slightly between individuals but they generally need to increase their body weight by about 40% from their lean winter weight before they are ready to go. That extra weight is predominantly fat but there will be an associated increase in muscle simply to carry all the extra weight.

This one is surely ready to go.
Today has been very warm and a complete contrast to when the first bird turned up on a snowy February morning. It was interesting to watch and photograph them in the fresh greenery of the trees now that they are finally coming into leaf. Waxwings can be very unobtrusive against the bark of the trees and in the dappled light under the canopy.

Waxwings are really quite well camouflaged against the bark of trees and a jumble of branches.

Zoom in and you can see how the body feathers matches the colour of the bark.
The mask, bib and under tail coverts help break up the bird's outline.
The following 3 photographs are included for the fresh greenery and glorious sunshine of today; not how you would normally expect to see Waxwings in this country.
I wish I had used a faster shutter speed and this had been sharp
...................and finally one bird actually waved me goodbye.
If you believe that you will believe anything but photoshop was not involved! Still a great photo whether today turns out to be the last day they are here or not. When I was taking the photographs someone passing by said 'hasn't the novelty worn off'. With Waxwings and photographs like these what do you think.

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