GOB 37 – Waxwing Hysterical
You may have not noticed but it is already turning into a ‘waxwing winter’ and it promises to be one of epic proportions.
In my corner of the southeast there are reports of flocks ranging from half a dozen to two hundred! Obviously, all I need do is look out of my window and… …and nothing! Not only are they not stripping my Pyracantha – that was polished off by blackbirds months ago – they are not even tempted by the crab apple that I planted just for them a decade ago and, from which, drop rotting crab apples year after untouched year.
Are they flying to my neighbours bushes? Hardly, my neighbours have paved and patio’d, dug up and decked, tarmacked and concreted like demented cowboy builders, leaving only the occasional gap for a light-blighting leylandi or a self-sown sycamore.
In their wisdom my local authority has made the park ‘child and dog friendly’. In effect this means it is close to a wildlife dessert. There are just a few well-groomed trees interspersed with grass. There are no bushes or undergrowth in which pedos might lurk, or drunkards might relieve themselves in the wee small hours. It does provide perches for the ubiquitous collared doves and our local parakeets, but precious little else.
If I drive out of town to my ‘hedge of dreams’ I find blackthorn and hawthorn, sloe and eglantine, which, a month ago, were positively dripping massive red berry puddles. But that was when the marauding fieldfares and redwings found their bounty and took their fill. I watched them one day as several hundred fieldfares pushed on through, probably preparing to go even further south for the winter and try their luck across the channel. Continental blackbirds, redwings, song and mistle thrushes all got stuck in and have stripped the bushes bare leaving mere crumbs at the table for our over-wintering blackcaps and chiffchaffs.
Never one to let such a local lack get me down I listened to reports, read my local birding bloggers and trawled the ornithological society’s website for waxwing words. It seems that they were still to be had so off I set every day for a week but getting not even a sniff of these wandering winter wonders
I did not give up, however, ‘she who must shop’, did require my taxi service.
It seems that her current boot collection is either insufficiently waterproof or stylish, and neither comfortable nor otherwise tolerable and we must buy more. So it was that, over my freshly darned socks, I pulled on the shoes that I inherited from my granddad several decades ago. I donned my army surplus jacket (now back in fashion for the third time) and syphoned off a cup of the neighbour’s diesel. Then I coaxed the car into shopping mode. Like me it reluctantly trundled toward a part of town I hope to mostly avoid.
Under a sign that warns, ‘here be dragons’ life is rife with muggers posing as shopkeepers. There are buildings there which, once entered, do not allow you to leave so long as one brass farthing still clings to a fold of your purse or hides behind a moth in your wallet. The door alarms scream and klaxons clamour madly if you try to pass out through their portals with a credit card still showing less than 10% over-spend on your credit limit.
If sufficient good behaviour has accrued over several months, I am allowed to sit and wait in the car, while the better part of us goes on sorties into the shopping battlefields.
This, of course, leaves me in a typically male quandary. Stay put and pawn everything I own, or join the fray all the while attempting to subvert her buying intentions. I try to achieve this with unflattering comments about ‘the fit’ dresses (whatever that means) and by relating horror stories about the carcinogenic qualities of newly purchased clothes. In the end good sense lost out to my shopping phobia and I delivered myself into the arms of my Kindle™ while she ran into Debenhams™ all the while scattering tenners while being beguiled by fashion fever.
Mere hours later I hear the boot open and feel the car settle six inches closer to the tarmac under the weight of her purchases.
(OK, OK, it was actually half an hour later and there was but one slim shopping bag. Now stop reading over my shoulder!)
Exhausted from the fray my beloved then announced that we would not be going in search of waxwings because all this shopping had produced an appetite such that she could consume a small beast of burden and I was thus instructed to head for the local Subway™.
We pulled into the sandwich shop carpark behind a local garage just off the bi-pass and the love of my life toddled off inside to get some cheesy Nachos. I declined such indulgence, pleading an inability to afford savoury snacks of my own due to being newly impoverished.
Then this morning of purgatory, spent shedding pounds of the wrong sort, was made sooooo much worse.
An event unfolded that is likely to result in more shopping trips than someone of my nervous disposition can cope with.
I looked up and there in a bare tree, sometimes dropping down to gorge on fruiting bushes were eleven splendidly attired waxwings sparkling in the frosty sunshine glinting off the Texaco sign!
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*™ I’m rather hoping that all this blatant product placement bears fruit!