Charming waxwing story wins prize for Fair Isle filmmaker

A filmmaker from Fair Isle has won a prize in this year’s British Wildlife Photography Awards.

Liz Musser’s film, Henry and the Waxwings, documents an influx of waxwings that reached Shetland late last October.

The short film features and is narrated by Liz’s son Henry, who was 11 at the time. Because the birds are so fearless, Henry was able to feed them from his hands, tempting them into the garden with apples and berries.

Henry Hyndman enjoys the moment as several waxwings feed from his hands. Photo: Tommy Hyndman
Henry Hyndman enjoys the moment as several waxwings feed from his hands. Photo: Tommy Hyndman

Liz said it was an “absolutely amazing honour” to have been chosen as winner in the category. She and Henry, together with her husband Tommy Hyndman, had travelled to London earlier this month for the awards ceremony – an event she described as “really great”.

The family visit had been entirely fitting, Liz added, as the film was “a great family affair”.

“It was the combination of these great birds that showed up, and Henry – he’s so into birds and wildlife … And then all the images included in the [British Wildlife Photography Awards] book are Tommy’s still images. So … instead of a lone wildlife photographer it’s this whole family that’s involved.”

Liz’s success in the HD Video category brought a set of very impressive prizes with it. She was awarded a Canon XA -10 professional camcorder, a 3D HD television and a year’s Sky World HD package.

However, she said, even without the prizes, “I still would have considered it an incredible honour because I know there are some fabulous photographers and video motion photographers out there, so just to get acknowledged is really nice”.

Liz believes that beyond the technical skills involved, and the spectacle of the waxwings, there was one element that made her film stand out for the judges.

“Mine was different from other submissions they had seen” she said. “Mine had a story.”

Many of the other entries featured beautiful photography and incredible slow motion images, “which I could never do. What I can do is tell a story.

Liz Musser and Henry Hyndman with presenter Chris Packham at the awards ceremony in London.
Liz Musser and Henry Hyndman with presenter Chris Packham at the awards ceremony in London.

“To be honest I’m not a huge wildlife person, but I like good stories, and when these amazing birds showed up and Henry was able to hold them for these really fleeting moments, with birds landing on his hand and being that close – that to me is just a great story, and it’s something that he’ll remember forever.

“I think that’s what made the piece stand out. It was that interaction. It was a charming boy and it was a story of a short bit of time in someone’s life.”

The video can be viewed here.


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