Saturday, 13 February 2016

Call me Ishmael

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but I have spent a fair bit of time and effort looking for the Brambling that was found by @callahanbirder on the Reservoirs on January 3rd. Originally in the old Horse paddock by the side of No.5, and well twitched by many, it promptly disappeared after a few days only for @leevalleybirder to re-find it in the Horse paddocks on Leyton marsh on January 26th.

On a bit of a quest I made at least six attempts at relocating it at both sites but to no avail, somehow though, I felt it was still around. Today @stuartfisher16 saw it back in the paddocks near the riding stables off Lea Bridge Rd and got the news out quick. It was a few hours before I could get down there but, as the weather was fairly grim, I was quietly confident that this was going to be 7th time lucky. (It does seem the harder I try the luckier I get).

The Brambling flock was feeding under the pylon as I arrived, I counted them…19, no sign of the Brambling. Stuart said there were 30, I counted them again…26, no sign of the Brambling…, again 29, guess what? No sign of the Brambling, I didn’t panic…and suddenly ‘thar she blows!’ It felt somewhat like Ahab sighting Moby Dick, but with a happier ending and marginally less blubber.

I say 'she', for that is what she is, and, on checking the plumage features, unquestionably it’s the same bird as originally found on the reservoirs. There have been precious few Brambling in London this winter so it was always my assumption that there was only one bird involved. The sites are only 2km apart, less as the Whale swims, just along the Lea overflow channel, so hardly surprising it’s just moved with the mobile Chaffinches.

 Looking back at my notes I seem to see Brambling every other year on the patch, but this is definitely the closest views I’ve managed, even allowing some record shots, shame about the light, or lack of.

Whilst out I had another look for Reed Buntings but I’m afraid I have to declare them extirpated from the patch, all sightings thus far this year are clearly delusional, sorry chaps you’ll have to cross them off your lists!

It seems I narrowly missed @lolbodini when I went for a paddle in the Reed bed on Walthamstow marsh, (n.b. previously known as the ‘Dry Reed bed’, I have officially re-named it the ‘Reed bed’, for obvious reasons) two Snipe flew over it as I approached and I flushed another, which pitched down fairly quickly, though I wouldn’t like to stick any epithet on it. Apparently he didn’t see any Jack Snipe either but did see the Brambling after I left, so best wishes if you try for it.


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