Trip reports

Lea Valley for Bitterns

Lea Valley for Bitterns
Hawfinch-Liz Barrett

Sunday, 25 February 2018

On the 25th February eight of us headed to the Lea Valley in the hope of catching up with the elusive Bittern. It was a cold, 3C, breezy day but beautifully sunny with clear blue skies. Our first port of call was the Bittern Information Point over the newly repaired and thankfully open Green bridge. A Bittern is seen here but usually later in the day when it comes in to roost so it was unlikely we would see it on this trip. However the normally secretive Water Rail has taken to feeding under the Bittern hide bird-feeders and gave us very close views. After checking out the feeders near the farm a decision was made to head to Bramfield and try for the Hawfinch. Bramfield churchyard is a regular haunt for these birds and we were hopeful as they had been seen earlier. In fact we thought we saw a flock of about six fly off shortly after we arrived. Now it was just a case of waiting and indeed our patience was rewarded when three birds flew in and alighted on the top of tall Ash tree at the back of the churchyard. The light was just perfect and gave very good and clear views to all. This was a first for some of our group so well worth the trip. We finished of the day with a walk down the lane to warm us up a bit but, as ever with birding, it wasn't long before we stopped again. This time it was a very handsome Bullfinch pair feeding in the hedgerow, the winter sun showing their plumage to its best. We caught the soft song of the male and on that note decided to call an end to a wonderful winter's day.
Our total bird species for the day was 57