Readers help track down Arctic guests

waxwing 2 hand in
waxwing 2 hand in

A KEEN birdwatcher has thanked readers for their overwhelming support in helping her track down an Arctic visitor to our shores.

Wildlife photographer Diane Smillie of MacFarlane Road, Kessington, Bearsden has been on something of a quest to document waxwings. The birds periodically make the mammoth journey from the frozen north of Russia and Scandinavia to winter in milder climes when food is scarce.

The most recent influx of waxwings - who seem to have brought the weather with them - are easily identified by their pink plumage and exotic-looking punk-rocker crest and have been spotted in the Bearsden and Milngavie area.

Following a letter in the Herald asking readers to e-mail Diane a couple of weeks ago, she said: “The information I have been given was of great help and I was surprised to hear of so many sightings in the area.

“I actually managed to locate a huge flock in the grounds of Glasgow University Vet School but unfortunately they were perched so high up on the Poplar trees that I was unable to get a decent photo.”

However to Diane’s amazement a small flock appeared in the front garden of her Bearsden garden to feed off Rowan tree berries.

Diane continued: “I have a very protective mistle thrush who guards this larder with great determination and before I could grab my camera she had swooped on them with the fierceness of an eagle firing her ‘missiles’ with great force and dispersing them into the sky. But as great fortune would have it, when the Mistle thrush was off duty, they returned and this time I was ready with my camera.”

And to all the readers who helped Diana she said she hoped everyone enjoys these winter visitors, adding: “They are beautiful little birds quite often mistaken in flight as our own little starlings.”

For those interested in our feathered friends this is also an ideal time to look out for other winter visitors such as redwings, fieldfares and bramblings who are also here at this time of year from northern Europe and Russia.