Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Summer's still giving

Looking at birdguides now, there are fewer and fewer squares appearing on the map showing few birds to go out and see. Two days ago though a male common rosefinch popped up at Walthamstow apparently singing and showing well. These are rare but not mega visitors to these isles from the near continent. I was tempted to go yesterday but the thought of a drive through rush hour traffic from work wasn't that tempting. Today though it was still reported so at lunch I finished my emails and phone calls and leapt into the car. I had a three hour window as there was a call I needed to be on at 3pm. The sat nav said 18 miles and about 30 minutes, not too bad.
It took me almost an hour and a half! The traffic wasn't bad, just traffic light after traffic light, each one seemingly set to slow the flow as much as possible. Still, I got to the Lea Valley Ice Centre just after 1.30, which was the designated parking area. Instructions said walk NNW. I hate it when it says that. There were 3 paths, all of which either at the start or a bit further on were north-ish!! I took what seemed to be the most northerly, and was soon in an open area. Despite being in the edge of the city, with aeroplanes for Heathrow and City airport flying over and a busy railway line next door it was quite peaceful. The area is known as Walthamstow marsh and is a low lying, slightly wet, slightly meadow-like area. Quite a few birds were flying around, reed and sedge warblers as well as whitethroats scratching away.
Within a few hundred yards though I saw a railway viaduct, referred in the instructions, and more importantly a group of 20 or so birders. I met one coming back toward to me. "Not been seen for over 2 hours so no rush" wasn't good news. I then totally lucked out.

Everybody was looking at this bush, which apparently was the rosefinches favourite spot. Literally as I got there it burst into song and sat out on the top of the bush - totally jammed into that one. I did get good if brief views though of a bird, about halfway in sizer between a bullfinch and chaffinch, with a whitish belly and a lovely rosy red upper chest running into neck patch.One of the other birders commented on how lucky I was! It didn't stay for long though and was soon off again.
For the next 45 minutes or so we waited, it would call, sometimes nearby, sometimes over the river/ canal behind us near a pub.

I got 3 or 4 more views but nothing close to an opportunity for a photo. Still, I left to go to back to my car for my work phone call a happy bunny. This is only the second one I've seen and keeps the list going as we get deeper into the summer doldrums. Soon time to reverse migration start though and there's always a hope of a real rare or two popping up before holiday  time.