The Bohemian Waxwing

Bohemian Waxwing

Niigata, Japan

February 28, 2013, 5:38pm.

ISO 27807  f5.6 1/250 +1, fill-flash handheld

Nikon D800 Nikkor 80-400mm VR

I've yearned to see waxwings for years. I recall seeing their pictures when I was young in Australia and considered them as exotic species of the northern hemisphere. I've known they are in Japan and every year I have seen their beautiful portraits posted on blogs around the world. I saw one in March 2009 when I was walking along a busy street. It was sitting on a Mercedes-Benz waiting its turn in a feeding frenzy among sparrows at a bird feeder alongside someone's home. I didn't see it again.

On the evening of February 28, this year, I was walking my dog after work and looked up and my eye caught this guy sitting in a small cherry tree in the middle of a busy road on one side and a pedestrian path on the other. It was a small environment and I had imagined to see such things I'd have to be in a beautiful garden. Far from it.

I remained composed and allowed my dog to continue her venture. We sniffed at everything; around posts and taps, newly planted tulip beds and just plain grass. I thought the bird would be long gone when I returned half an hour later with my camera. (The dog satisfied but wondering why I fled after dropping her inside the door).

The above picture was taken after 5:30pm and the sun was long gone. I pumped up the ISO beyond anything I'd used before. All the pictures had strong back lighting. I used the camera's built-in fill-flash for the top pic which brought out the eye more and illuminated the colourful waxy parts. 

It stayed for a few days but I didn't manage better pics. The last time I saw them was Monday, March 4. I went out with the camera before the dog but there was no sign. Of course, when I returned with the dog and no camera, I saw him again in the same tree. He called out and two more came. They were interested in vines beneath the trees with orange berries. I haven't seen them again. None yesterday and rain today.

Disappointed with the background roof in the top shot and have processed all with Topaz De-Noise. 

March 2, 2013 3:14pm ISO 1800 in the same tree.