Dave D-L reported 86 Waxwings at Lakeside shopping centre this morning. Waxwings have been cropping up in metropolitan Essex for ages now, and thus far I have resisted the urge to go and see them. Not this morning - I drove straight there after the school run, armed with camera. As soon as I got there it was clear that Dave's birds had been joined by some more, a lot more. Counting them whilst there proved impossible, so I did a twenty second pan of all occupied trees and bushes that I could see and counted them later on the screen - a whopping 225 birds, and it's perfectly possible that I missed some. The air was full of the sound of trilling, and there were so many birds that there was a near constant stream of them coming down to feed in the berry-laden hedges of the parking lot, before wheeling back up to the trees again, perhaps via a puddle for a refreshing drink. Even Pudding was silenced, a sure sign of being over-awed.
The burning question is of course how many Waxwing photos is too many Waxwing photos? I took 472 in the space of about an hour and a half, of which I kept 77. Ideally I'd like to post all 77, but even I realise that that might be overkill. Perhaps if I started with five, and then added a few random ones in the coming posts? Would that be OK?
For anyone interested in the techy stuff, all of these were taken out of the car window at either 500mm or 700mm, with a heavy-duty beanbag for support, and the engine switched off. A car is by far and away the best mobile hide out there, and I was able to get so close that most of these photos are uncropped. I would have preferred to be out of the car using a tripod, but the birds would have flown off, as they did when the car-park litter cleaner deliberately spent five minutes picking up every tiny scrap right where the birds were feeding in a deliberate effort to piss me right off. He did, but I remained calm, and he was forced to wander off somewhere else. So, from within the car, most of these are full frame at about 15 feet. You can probably guess that I had a great time.