Unbelievable as it might seem to some, these cheeky chicks are so rare in Oxfordshire that their appearance by the side of the road in Marston this week has attracted a crowd of feather fanciers, brandishing telescopic lenses, tripods and tea.

In fact they are waxwings, Bombycilla garrulus – a species last seen in Oxfordshire five years ago.

These photographs were snapped by birdwatcher Hugh Jaeger, better known as the chairman of passenger group Bus Users Oxford, who explained why everyone was getting so twitchy about the avian arrivals.

He said: "Waxwings spend each summer in Scandinavia and Russia and each winter in Britain.

"Their winter range doesn't usually include Oxfordshire - mostly they stick to eastern and central Scotland, northern England, the east coast of England, but once every few years they spread much further west and south.

"Their last major visit to Oxfordshire was in the winter of 2012 - 13, and this year is another waxwing winter."

Mr Jaeger said the birds were first spotted in Crowmarsh Gifford near Wallingford on January 4, then in Banbury on January 6 and turned up in New Marston on Sunday.

A few birdwatchers arrived in Marston Road to see the visitors on Monday, but by Wednesday the numbers had grown, and several set up their cameras with tripods and huge lenses.

Mr Jaeger said: "After midday working people used their lunch break to come and see the birds, and more than a dozen of us were all huddled in a group a short distance from the waxwings' little rowan tree.

"I hope New Marston residents don't mind all the birdwatchers – some residents certainly seem amused.

"One passer-by stopped and used her phone to take a photo of the birdwatchers."