In December 2012 my husband Moth and I finally achieved a long-held ambition: to get a really good view of waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus), the ‘angels’ in my painting . Thanks to the Oxford Bird Log and WaxwingsUK we were alerted to a small group of these gorgeous birds which had been sporadically hanging out in the churchyard at St Giles in Oxford. Waxwings fly across the North sea every autumn to overwinter in the UK, taking advantage of our milder weather and yummy crop of berries.
We’d tried and failed the week before to see them, but sheer determination paid off. They weren’t there when we arrived, so instead we enjoyed watching the redwings, blackbirds and long-tailed tits bouncing around in the yews. Then, all of a sudden, a small cloud of these unmistakable Lovelies swooped in – about 20 or 30 of them – and descended onto a tree covered in berries under which I was standing. I didn’t need binoculars, they were just metres away from me, leaping around, feasting on berries, chirping softly to each other. I was surrounded by angels!
My painting of these waxwings, Angels in St Giles, sums up the pure joy and magic I felt at this moment.