Monday, 14 June 2010

Poor behaviour at twitch

The rosefinch twitch was a great social occasion (spot any faces?),
but something to look at would have helped ...

I’ve been to a lot of twitches over the years, but I’ve never seen anything like this before. Yesterday and again today, at a site that rarely registers on the rarity map, the crowds assembled on news of a much-needed tick – in fact the best bird for at least 100 miles in any direction (forgetting claimed Booted Eagles in Suffolk and Hampshire).

After a total of three hours on my part, and far longer spent by others, you might have expected nerves to become a little frayed. But they didn’t, and the masses waited patiently. For what? A glimpse of the most badly behaved, skulking rarity I think any of us have ever seen. A furtive crake, perhaps, or a tired Locustella warbler creeping through the grass? No, a Common Rosefinch of all things, steadfastly refusing to sing out in the open on Tottenham Marshes in urban north-east London. A couple of fleeting glimpses yesterday was all that most of us managed of this vocal but invisible first-summer male, and after another hour drew a blank today I took the camera home having never fired a frame. So instead, I give you this photo of a 'proper' male, taken in Finland a few summers ago, looking like and behaving as the species is meant to. It's the least I could do.

Common Rosefinch, Finland, June 2004. Why can't they behave (and look) like this in London?

There was little else at Tottenham Marshes bar singing Sedge Warbler and Lesser and Common Whitethroats, but a Yellow Shell was a new moth for me. Prior to my first visit a brief look at Rainham produced three Little Egrets, a Curlew, 22 Northern Lapwings, three Oystercatchers and six Redshanks, but the real wader interest came the day before, on Saturday 12th, when a call from Roy Beddard saw Ava and I dash over to Brent Reservoir for a very distant but very welcome Little Stint. It was the first at the site for 14 years, and in a poor spring for waders it was notable regionally as well as locally.

A diminutive Little Stint forages among the scenic splendour of Brent Reservoir's eastern marsh.

London year-list update:
184. Little Stint.
185. Common Rosefinch.

That means I have now hit my provisional year-end target, set back in mid-April, and there is a handful of expected species still to come. That said, an operation in a few weeks’ time will mean I'll be able to do almost no birding for several weeks – an unexpected hindrance which I hadn’t anticipated. Looks like I may have to switch to food reviews after all …

1 comment:

  1. I recognize that chap in the shorts! Looking forward to Autumn migration at Ally Pally.



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