Thursday, 8 December 2016


 How does a small American bird find its way to a small back garden in West Mersea??
I took a call from Dan and Christine Murtagh from East Road in West Mersea mid afternoon on Thursday 8th, saying they thought they had a dark-eyed junco feeding in their back garden - at that very moment! Luckily their old bird field guide actually had it illustrated in the back section of rare vagrants!

 I drove round there straight away and was ushered inside and waited for ten or fifteen minutes before the dark-eyed junco appeared out of the undergrowth to have a drink from a bird bath. It then dropped down onto the lawn and started to feed under the bird feeder.
While the junco was resting in a nearby bush a sparrowhawk glided overhead.

 This relative of the American sparrows occasionally visits the UK with maybe a couple of records each year although this is the first record for Essex.

The slate-grey body and throat contrasts with the pure white underparts. The pink-white bill is very distinctive as is the white outer tail feathers. There appeared to be a hint of brown on the back and on the wings, but seems to be an adult male.
The bird disappeared for about half an hour mid to late afternoon, before showing again in the fading light.

Access is being negotiated at the moment with the owners of the neighbouring bit of land to allow birdwatchers to see this cracking little bird over an adjoining back garden fence.

No comments: