Many years ago, in 2007, a Little Bunting took up residence at Amwell. It was there for months and months, and somehow I failed to go and see it despite it being a lifer back then. It just goes to show that I am who I am and nothing will ever change that. Amwell is up in the Herts sector of the London recording area, so in addition to it being a lifer it would also have been a London tick. I was clearly implacable. Maybe I just didn't know what a Little Bunting was? I subsequently became moderately interested in London listing and realised I had missed a golden opportunity.
Some 10 years and 136 birds later I have managed to get it back. The good Prof and Dave Bradshaw found a Little Bunting at the Walthamstow Wetlands Visitor Experience yesterday, and today between a break in the showers I managed to get over and see it. Pulling on my trainers and lycra, and retrieving my mountain bike and rollerblades from the shed, I gathered some local children, made a big picnic and a flask of tea and jogged over to the Reservoirs hoping that I would be allowed in. Turns out I was just the kind of visitor they were interested in, although they did confiscate my optics saying they wouldn't be necessary and anyway would give the wrong impression.
In the manner of all good twitches I joined a small crowd staring at some bushes. The bird had been seen about half an hour previously, so the line of people was essentially now more of a coffee morning. Happily I was fully alert and concentrating, and amongst all the conviviality I picked it out flying in. My initial directions (middle of the bush!) were a bit rubbish and caught people off guard until they suddenly remembered why they were there! I managed to scope it up for the nearest people and then it did the decent thing and perched up right in the open for everyone. A huge high-five fail with Lee B and one quick Scaup later I was on my way home in increasingly harder rain - good timing.
Walthamstow is a well watched site, and its rechristening as Europe's biggest Urban Wetlands has, it is safe to say, not really had the full blessing of the local patchers. What previously was a permit-only area with a few lonely fishermen and free-reign for birders now has a huge car-park, visitor centre, free access and their main objection, people! I can see that it would be annoying given the scale of change, certainly I view Wanstead as overrun at times by people who couldn't give two shits about nature and the environment, so the irony of a first for the site and only the 11th Little Bunting for London almost immediately after opening their doors is rather delicious, and certainly not lost on the Prof and others. Very sociable creatures Little Buntings. Gregarious, enjoy a crowd. It's not mentioned in the Collins, but they just love a nice cup of tea and a bit of a jog.
So a long time coming and therefore especially satisfying, and doing it on public transport for less than the cost of the car park felt particularly noble. It puts me on 257 for the LNHS area, and being east of the river Lea is thus also an Essex tick for good measure.