Solitary waxwing takes its annual holiday in Selkirk


As I write, the much heralded storm forecast for Monday morning is beginning to flex its muscles.

Outside, torrential showers are being carried on a strengthening wind and the barometer’s pointer is right in the middle of the “stormy” section.

I have already been out to tie everything down that is likely to take off, take in all the wind chimes and generally batten down the hatches.

The Met Office are obviously not going to be caught out again after the famous “hurricane” incident and are probably erring on the side of caution this time, but I’m taking no chances.

By the time you are reading this it will either be the talk of the town or a complete non-event.

Having heard no reports of waxwings in the Borders, I was very surprised to hear that the lady down the street, who invited me down last winter to see her solitary Scandinavian caller, was once again being visited by a single waxwing.

It was coming regularly to feast on apples she put out. Surely this must be the same bird. I would be interested to hear from experienced birders why this gregarious bird would come all that way on its own and return to the same garden, when the trees in the wild are laden with berries and, so far, no other waxwings have made the journey.

Most garden flowers are on the wane now despite the lack of a frost, but one is at its peak just now and that is the Michaelmas Daisy.

In previous years I have seen mine covered in butterflies at this time, mainly peacocks, small tortoiseshells and red admirals.

This year – not one.

Yesterday, while passing, I noticed that there was something else feeding on it other than the bumble bees. Several brown moths were darting from flower to flower, their wings quivering, making it hard to see what they were.

However, a little patience was rewarded when one stopped moving long enough for me to see an obvious white“Y” mark on both wings.

It was a common day flying moth often seen at this time of year – the Silver Y.

A well-known immigrant species, this moth can turn up in thousands under the right conditions, especially at coastal migration watch-points.

It can occur anywhere in Britain, and in autumn, the breeding population from spring migrants is swelled by further migration.

The adults can be found from spring through till late autumn, and can be seen by day as well as at night, when they regularly visit light.

The first frosts will finish them off, so in the meantime, keep your eyes open for them on any late flowers in your garden.