Thursday, 27 December 2012


Two days after Xmas and seven waxwings turn up at the country park - the first birds this winter here. More rain fell during the morning of Thursday 27th and this small group of waxwings weren't discovered till early afternoon, once some of the rain had subsided.

The birds spent most of the time perched on bush and tree tops between the car park and the hide, where there is a small thicket of wild rose bushes still with a few rose-hips present. The waxwings dropped down to pluck these hips from the bushes and swallowed them whole. The flock was very confiding and at one point flew to the tree above my head, allowing close views.

The waxwing flock flew around several times as they switched tree-tops and were also seen dropping down to the ground to drink from puddles on the central track and also the puddles on the saturated pond-field. They were last seen from the hide at the end of the afternoon, flying over the field to the north of the park, presumably to roost for the night.

It was going to be only a matter of time before some waxwings visited the park this winter, following the mass influx into the country a couple of months ago. There have been lots more sightings in north Essex in the last fortnight and this group at the park is the fourth sighting on the Island in the last fortnight. Over the years waxwings have been quite scarce at the country park with only half a dozen previous records and most just fleeting visitors.

Steve Entwistle managed to get to the park to enjoy the waxwings and afterwards watched a small group of five redpolls feeding in the alder trees near the pond. A couple of the birds were males with one in particular showing an extensive bright pink chest and very white underparts, suggesting a possible mealy redpoll rather than the more familiar lesser redpoll. The views were quite distant and partly obscured at times amongst the tangle of branches. The bird didn't appear to have a frosted appearance or the larger size of mealy when compared alongside the other brownish redpolls and nearby goldfinches. More views needed of these birds.

A water rail performed again for about twenty minutes towards dusk, scuttling along the grass on the edge of the reedmace by the pond. At least one other water rail was heard calling from the pond. The main ducks on the pond were the 25 gadwall and 70 mallard while the local dusky-coloured fox sprinted along the bottom of the field scattering lots of the moorhens.

Twenty stock doves flew into the copse at the back of the pond to roost and there was a mistle thrush singing from wires near houses to the north of the park.

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