On Sunday 8th September I took a walk through The Scrubs blearly eyed and jetlagged after returning from Peru the previous Friday. Little did I know that was about to discover a mega for London!
When I initially saw it had its back to me within the bush. The first impression was that of a Tree Pipit as it appeared to have a cold grey brown back with two pencil-thin white wingbars. It was soon clear that the bird was indeed a finch when it turned its head around sideways. I was trying to string it as a weird Greenfinch until it showed its face. I was immediately struck by its beady black eye set in a very plain, supercilium free face. There was hint of colour in its plumage and its breast showed smudged streaking. It then flew to the edge of the bush where it presented itself in full view facing us. It was then that I was convinced that I was looking at a juvenile Common Rosefinch. It seemed slighter with a smaller eye that the male Greenfinch that it seemed to be associating with.
I re-found at 08.40 roving the embankment and on one occasion it flew over past me following the line of the embankment before dumping down in a bush midway down. I noticed the generally dark sandy brown plumage and the classic beady eye. After stalking it for around 15 minutes I finally pinned it down on top of a shrub close to the dead tree and managed to get some record shots before it took off again towards the grassland where I summarily lost it.
I put the news out and due to it being only the ninth record for London and according to my mate Lee Evans, only the third in 30 years, this was the first potentially twitchable one in that time span. Soon small crowds of London listers assembled during the day. It was subsequently re-seen later in the morning and again in the afternoon and for part of the following day.
It really does pay to watch your local patch day in day out come rain or shine.