Watching wildlife can be absolutely breathtaking. Regardless of your age or experience, spotting something you’ve never seen before or simply catching a glimpse of a cheeky robin in your garden, can leave you totally mesmerised. Most of my encounters with birds, mammals and insects have happened purely by chance, walking through the city, out on a bike ride or driving through the countryside. My latest wildlife adventure was slightly adhoc to say the least. I’d heard about the invasion of waxwings that occurs around this time of year, but have never actually seen one for myself. When I heard that there had been about 20 birds spotted in Norwich city centre, I seized my opportunity and took off.

Binoculars at the ready, warm jacket and camera in my grasp! As you can see from the picture, these birds are rather spectacular. They look a bit like a cross between an 80’s punk rocker and a tropical bird of paradise. Adorned with striking colours; a flash of yellow at the end of the tail, red, yellow and white blobs of colour on the wing and a dramatic black mask that flicks subtly upwards like immaculately applied eyeliner! All of this colour, in contrast to the rich fawny feathers on its front, make the waxwing an unmissable bird – or so I thought.

Liz Cutting Photography

So, back to my quest. I raced through the bustle of commuters and no sooner had I located what must have been the best spot for them, the sky turned a moody grey and the heavens opened. The rain descended upon me, my binoculars steamed up and other than a few gulls and wood pigeons, there were no birds in sight. An hour or so later and with very wet feet, I had to concede that my first attempt to find waxwings had failed, but such is the reality and unreliability of nature. However, I am adamant that this won’t be a failed mission. With the cold weather fast approaching, waxwings will be relishing in our abundant rowan trees to feast on their berries over the coming months and i’ll be keeping my eyes peeled.

The lesson learnt from my first (non) waxwing experience is that you simply can’t predict how nature will behave. Even when you’re patiently looking out for something, watching intently for that ‘guaranteed’ wildlife sighting, it might never materialise. So remember, when you’re next at your local supermarket, driving on your way to work, or taking the kids to the park, keep your eyes peeled for a chance encounter with wildlife, who knows what you’ll spot along the way, hopefully a waxwing or two.