Well, a quiet week and not much birding. Going to work all day doesn’t help of course. And neither does being ill. I spent the first two days at home feeling cruddy, though did score a presumed Lesser Redpoll on the way back from nursery on Tuesday morning. Classic call somewhere above my head as I entered Bush Wood. Redpoll ID is a funny old thing, tends to get a bit emotional. Following the Thordon CP controversy recently, I spent a bit of time reading up on Redpoll ID, in my continuing effort to become a better birder. Fat chance. Four hours or more of reading leads me to believe that trying to pin a concrete ID on a Redpoll is a hopeless task, and that you are on a hiding to nothing. Safer to call anything you see away from Shetland a probable Lesser and be done with it. It seems just a sliding scale from small and browny to massive and white, and whilst certain races are likely to be found within certain areas of that scale, getting definitive is dangerous. As the Punks say, if they are likely to stick around and be seen by others, call them Lesser, if they disappear into the distance, feel free to claim a few unimpeachable Mealy.
I digress. A quick jaunt to East India Dock on Friday picked up a wintering Black Redstart – one of the best sites in London, if not the country, for reliable sightings - and there was a Common Sandpiper in Bow Creek with the Redshank at the high-tide roost, which was a year tick. All in all a very profitable lunch hour. It needed to be, as today was almost bird-free, bar an aquamarine dart across the Heronry Pond this morning. I was out looking for the 5 Egyptian Geese that would have been a site tick for me, seen by Paul F yesterday. They were gone, but there isn't much that beats an early-morning Kingfisher really. Bee-eater perhaps? I was under strict orders from Management to be out for no longer than 20 minutes, but returned after 15 for extra brownie points. Fair enough given I buggered off to Cornwall last weekend. The life of a birder is one long balancing act.