Migrant rare birds lost in Redbridge on flight to warmer climes

BIRDS in Redbridge are in for a tough winter, but everyone can do their bit to help ease the freeze for our feathered friends.

Bird charity RSPB warns that the early onset of winter will be a test for wild birds as they find the right kind of food to survive.

Birdwatcher Richard Leighton, of Oakwood Gardens, Goodmayes, advises wildlife feeders to be consistent.

“Birds rely on routine, so they will keep coming back for more. The best thing to do, if you want to stop feeding them, is cut the food down gradually.”

But winter does not spell the end of exciting bird sightings.

Mr Leighton said: “Lots of birds come in from colder countries like Russia at this time of year. Waxwings and migrant black catbirds often end up lost in England while migrating from the north.”

“A couple of years ago I saw a Hume’s warbler at Fairlop Waters – that is a bird that lives in Asia, and is typically found in mountain woodland. I can only assume it got lost after crossing the Pacific.”

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Mr Leighton, who has been a birdwatcher since he was a child, said he was inspired when he saw an unusual bird with his father, and the intrigue never left him. “I have been hooked on birdwatching since the age of seven. The beauty is you never know what you are going to find.”

Birds must be given the right kind of food to have a chance of surviving the winter, avoiding salty foods and ensuring a fresh supply of water.

Erica Howe, from the RSPB, says: “Set up a bird table and use high calorie seed mixes. This can also be used to put out kitchen scraps such as grated cheese, pastry and porridge oats. Ensure a fresh supply of water, tepid if necessary, but never use anti-freeze.”

She added residents should brace themselves for an influx of birds, however, as they are known for flocking to built-up areas.

“Birds combat the big chill by flying to milder regions in search of areas less-affected by the weather, where food is still readily available. This can create a sudden and dramatic change to the birdlife of an area.”

For more information on how to help birds visit www.rspb.org.uk.

l JOIN the Big Garden Birdwatch next month and take part in the world’s biggest wildlife survey. The RSPB is urging people to take an hour out of their weekend on January 29 or 30, and record all bird visitors in their gardens.

A spokesman said: “It’s simple, fun and for all the family, and best of all you don’t need to leave the comfort of your own home.”

To register and get your ID sheet, plus 10 per cent off bird feed, visit www.rspb.org.uk/birdwatch.

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