The icy North Wind blew us a mysterious guest this January. It arrived on our balcony unseen, caught us aware, touched our hearts, and left a poo.
I looked up, and there it was, sitting plump and still, staring in through the kitchen window. Soft, fluffy brindle feathers, darker wings with flashes of red, white and yellow and a tail with a yellow bar along the tip.
Livin’ in a twitcher’s paradise
It didn’t fly away. It just sat there, staring at me. I called my son. He said it looked unusual. I hadn’t really considered it. But now he said so, I couldn’t say what it was.
We googled. We found a match. My five-year-old was right. It was unusual. The bird on our balcony was a waxwing. That meant nothing to me. The RSPB told us that it liked to winter on the eastern fringes of Britain.
Costa del Malmö
Clearly, it also liked to winter on the southern tip of Sweden. Not the Costa del Sol, but preferable to its summer home above the Arctic Circle. Maybe it had flown all the way down to us that very day?
Was it dying, I wondered ominously? It wasn’t moving. The night was dropping to minus 7. Would it survive? Would I have to sneak out without my son noticing next morning and dispose of a frozen corpse?
Berry, berry hungry
The RSPB said that the waxwing’s favourite food is the rowan berry. Just beyond our balcony were two rowans, stripped of their leaves, but still hung with red berries. If this waxwing still had use of its wings, surely it would find them?
By morning, it still sat on our balcony. But it had turned around in the night, a movement that felt like progress. It had pooed too, so the bodily functions were working. Still more hope.
Then hope turned to abundance. By mid-morning, some 50 of its mates converged on our rowan trees. Our waxwing joined them. By lunch, there wasn’t a berry left.
A day later they were gone, but while they were here, they were a bloody miracle.
On the subject of Swedish wildlife, I saw a hare… where?