2012 is proving another good year for waxwings. They are making their way down in impressive numbers from Scotland where there have been flocks of several hundred at a time and a few days ago reasonable numbers were also being reported along the Devon and Dorset coasts. There have been a few reported in the last few days in the Avonmouth area of Bristol and that's where I headed first. Unfortunately I only saw a couple of flighty birds in surroundings less than picturesque so I decided to head for Cheltenham where a flock of 125 had been reported at the junction of Princess Elizabeth Way and Bramley St.
The hotspot was immediately obvious in the form, of two impressively large hawthorn trees in front of Edward Wilson House, a low block of Council flats. There were no other birders or photographers there when I arrived and I felt somewhat out of place and self conscious with my large lens pointing at the berry-laden trees with windows of flats behind them. I was soon joined by another photographer and then some birders and then as is the way of things, some locals came along for a chat and to look at the growing collection of pics. We were assured that we were in a really rough area and might have our gear stolen from us and this seemed to be borne out when a youth with his scarf over his face came cycling towards us. However, he just pulled his scarf down, grinned and said 'That's a real kick-ass camera!' and cycled off. A little later one of the residents of the flats invited us up to continue our photographic session from his balcony. That was amazing, being eye to eye with these lovely birds as they chattered away and fed on berries. This kind gent continued to tell us what a dodgy neighbourhood we were in but we only experienced a great deal of curiosity and interest from one and all.
A big thank you to all the local folk for making us welcome and here are a few of the pictures from today.