Waxwings (Russell F Spencer)
The day finally came. It had to come. Having not seen a Waxwing this current invasion bar a small flock of birds, possibly Waxwings, that flew across the rooftops of Archway, north London back in early January whilst I was motoring, I got tempted by twitching.
Whilst driving through Kensington, I got a call from my mate saying that he was watching a flock of Waxwings in Kilburn, which wasn't a million miles away from where I was. I've had a few calls like that this winter and apart from when a small flock were briefly at The Scrubs in November last year, I resisted all temptation to twitch a flock preferring to try and luck into some myself. Well that plan failed miserably, despite the hours of curb crawling through potential streets in west London. For some reason, the call I received today was the turning point. So I changed direction and headed towards Kilburn.
On the way, my mate called to say that the flock had flown. Was today destined to end in tears? Undeterred and believing that the Force was with me I carried on heading to Kilburn. Seconds later I received a text from my fellow Scrubber Rob. Whilst stationary at a traffic light (in case the Police are reading this) I read his message. '14 Waxwings visible now on Melrose Avenue NW6'. That address was even closer to me. I changed course and soon I was cruising down Melrose Avenue. Of course, when I saw Rob who was working in someone's garden on that street (he's a landscape gardener) he told me the news that I was half expecting. They have flown away, chased off by an angry Mistle Thrush.
Melrose Avenue is one of several streets that feed off a medium sized park called Queens Park, from which the neighbourhood takes it name. I decided to do a street to street search. After around 30 minutes and completely circuiting the park I had drawn a blank. Before giving up, I decided to return to the scene of the crime. I had just driven onto the street when a flock of c14 buzzed over the car heading in the opposite direction. I swung around, parked up and waited. Within 10 minutes I was standing under a tree cooing at the sight of around 14 Waxwings silhouetted against the grey sky.
I was parked on a double yellow line at the end of the road and severe danger of being ticketed. Suddenly, a parking warden (or traffic enforcement officer, as they're now known) rounded the corner. He started eyeing up my car and I could see him reaching for his ticket machine. I raced over to him and explained that I was watching some wonderful birds all the way from Scandinavia. I had him looking through my bins at them as I explained their status in the UK right now. He was thrilled. Genuinely thrilled. So thrilled that he walked away and with a wave of his hand told me to remain parked on the double yellow line as long as I wanted. Double result!
The Force was with me.