We were snowed-in basically, the perils of living in a cul-de-sac, no gritters and no passing traffic to help clear the road, so a day off school for the kids, and I spent most of the morning shovelling snow with a couple of neighbours to ease access to the road.
But I digress, my main concern early morning was whether 'Waxy' would return. I didn't have long to wait. As the day brightened just enough to see the bottom of the garden in decent light, a now familiar figure swooped in and onto the tree where the half apples hung. I quickly grabbed my camera as I wanted a photo of her in the wintery conditions.
But today the apples were covered in snow. I watched through the viewfinder and snapped away as Waxy took a few tentative pecks at one of the snow-covered apples, it was obvious they were frozen solid. She stopped and looked from side to side a couple of times, turned around on her perch and flitted off in the direction from which she'd arrived, causing a mini snowfall from the tree as she did so.
I immediately had a gut feeling that was the last I would see of her, and so it proved :-(
|Thursday 18th January, just after 8am|
|A quick inspection of the apple and a couple of unproductive pecks.|
|A startled 'What do I do now?' type of look.|
|The very last pic I took of 'Waxy' before she flitted off to pastures new :-(|
I have to say I was quite sad, and spent the rest of the day (in between tasks) looking forlornly out of the window. My gut instinct told me she wasn't coming back. I hoped I was wrong, so it wasn't until Friday morning, when she didn't show again, before I finally conceded my five day flirtation with this Scandinavian beauty had ended, thanks to a freak un-named winter storm.
You may note I've started referring to her as 'she', well I thought I'd try to age and sex the bird from my photos. The criteria as follows led me to conclude she was a first winter female, though please feel free to put me right if this is not the case :
All in all a very interesting few days in the garden. The presence of the waxwing has kept me at the windows for far longer than usual, and a supporting cast of new garden ticks and a bit more has resulted :
A flock of 8 then later 9 greenfinches is the most I've seen for some 12 years, since the finch disease all but wiped them out locally (and further afield) so very good news indeed.
On Sunday I had a goldcrest, a nuthatch and 2 long-tailed tits all together in one tree, the goldcrest being a garden first, I've seen them in trees over the road fairly regularly but first time in the garden.
Other birds nice to see have been the regular bullfinch pair, couple of jays, another squadron of long-tailed tits, a GS Woodpecker, and on Thursday morning in the snow, numerous large parties of redwing flew over from the valley, and a couple of smaller parties of Fieldfare, actually the first I've seen this winter and a long-awaited flyover garden tick.
Best of all the wintry conditions brought an excellent sighting of first time visitors, with up to 4 Yellowhammers coming to the garden in the last few days.
|One of four Yellowhammers brought to the garden by the wintry conditions.|
A kind of consolation prize I guess :-/
I have to admit I was saddened at the disappearance of 'my' waxwing. But the apples were frozen solid thanks to the overnight snow and freezing temperatures, she couldn't eat them so had to find food elsewhere, that's the way of survival, its the only reason they visit us in the winter. She's probably miles away now, but I do hope she found a new food supply and makes it back home ok in the spring.
Thanks for the memories,'Waxy'. And you can be sure I'll be keeping the trees loaded with half apples 'til April, when the last waxwings return to the continent ;-)