|Count the Bramblings!|
In the end I decide to miss the Hawfinches at Bramfield again. Something I achieve with ease, as a twenty minute patrol produces nothing. Standing waiting is not my kind of birding.
On to Rye Meads RSPB, a reserve that gets better year-by-year. No sign of the Bittern or Water Pipit, but the obligatory Green Sandpiper and a few Shelduck made the list. And for the first time this year Brambling. Three of us set up with scopes and camera a reasonable distance from what is a quite skittish flock and eventually found three males and a female, the males now looking quite spectacular. The grain put out by the staff had attracted 13 Magpies too. The photo above of a bush by the path has a Brambling clearly out in the open about a third from the top, a second one near the RHS two thirds of the way down, and a third bird hiding in the bushes in the lower left.
The second dip was a very predictable one on Monday night. The regulars at Amwell had seen a Franklin's Gull in the roost on Sunday so about forty birders dutifully turned up on Monday. To no-one's surprise the star bird didn't turn up, but a Caspian Gull and a Peregrine dashing through made up for the no-show.