The waxwing, from Scandinavia, is just one of a number of unusual birds that has been seen in huge numbers this year
By Tom Herbert
14:00, 9 APR 2017
The south east has seen a huge rise in the number of unusual birds visiting UK gardens.
Bird fans saw an explosion in the number of waxwings, a Scandinavian migrant bird that flocks to the UK only once every seven to eight years.
The bird, which has a prominent crest and black masks around its eyes, only visits us when the berry crop fails in their native land, in a process known as "irruption".
It meant that in 2017's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch in January, the striking looking bird was seen in south east gardens around 19 times more than in previous years.
The boom also extends to birds such as redwing and fieldfare, as the sub-zero temperatures on the continent forced them to go in search of milder conditions.
The south east saw numbers of redwing triple while our gardens saw a five-fold increase in fieldfare sightings.
Dr Daniel Hayhow, RSPB Conservation Scientist, said: "There was some speculation as to whether we could see a ‘waxwing winter’ and the results prove that to be the case.
"Flocks of these striking looking birds arrived in the UK along the North Sea coast and will have moved across the country in search of food, favouring gardens where they can feast on berries.