Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Big excitement early on the morning of Wednesday 24th, when these two waxwings were found in the middle of West Mersea. This picture above was taken by Richard Brown who kindly passed it onto me for this blog. Richard's dad Geoff, discovered the two birds close to the school crossing patrol where he helps escort the children across the road. He was able to keep a distant eye on the birds as they perched up in the trees close to the school gardens in Barfield Road. Richard lives just a stone throw from where the birds were but unfortunately his work took him off the Island. However glad to see he got back in time to get a great photo of the birds.

I got the phonecall shortly after the birds were found and was able to get along to watch the birds. I joined Shirley Field who had already got one or two photos of the birds perched in the trees. After a few minutes of craning our necks up to watch the birds high in the trees, they dropped down onto a tall bush to feed on some rosehips along the edge of the British Legion car park.

They were very obliging, ignoring all the mums and dads arriving in the car park to take their children to the school. After a few minutes the birds returned back to the tree-tops. Even 15 minutes later the birds could still be seen from the car as you drove slowly along Barfield Road. The birds were still reported as being present in the middle of the day and they probably stayed for the rest of the day too.

Waxwings are always such pretty birds to look at with their pink-grey plumage, pinky tuft on the head and the little red waxy tipped feathers on the wings. They didn't call while I was there but they have a distinctive trilling sound like the ringing tone of the old trim-phones. It's been surprising that so few waxwings have been seen this winter in Essex, compared with the thousands of fieldfares and redwings that came over from Scandinavia.

Every 4 or 5 years, small groups of waxwings are found in West Mersea, usually feeding on various berries on trees and bushes they can find in gardens. The flocks don't stay around for more than a few days, so it will be interesting to see if these two stay around.

Another notable wildlife occurence was the sight of a few common toads, newly out of hibernation, making their way down Firs Chase on a drizzly late evening. A few had already succumbed to passing traffic but hopefully more toads will emerge in the next few days and successfully make their way to the local pond.

Elsewhere 50 fieldfares were in the Cudmore Grove car park this morning, 3 red-legged partridge were in the field near the East Mersea pub and a badger was found dead by the road near Fen Farm on Tuesday morning.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful birds, those waxwings, and a marvellous picture taken by your friend! Jan

Dougal Urquhart said...

Jan- They're smart birds and always a joy to watch. Hope the recent weather's been kind to you! Dougal