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Exotic bird at Rushy Common

John C writes:

After spending another morning removing tree guards at Tar Lakes with the LWVP volunteers, I went to eat my lunch in the Rushy Common hide, as I usually do. Except for about a hundred wigeon and a solitary female goldeneye, the overwintering ducks had all left. I didn’t think that there would be anything interesting until I looked underneath the feeders.

At first I thought it was just a pheasant – there are plenty of them about – feeding on the ground, and it probably was some kind of pheasant, but not an ordinary one. He, or possibly she, was really rather splendid. It spent most of the time on the ground but I got a good look when it flew onto the ‘insect hotel’ where someone had left some seed.

I have no idea what it was but I imagine it was an escaped ornamental of some kind. I looked at some pictures on the internet but couldn’t find a likeness. Of course, it might have been a female – the pictures were mostly of male birds. But in any case its dark brown/purple plumage was very fine. My guess is that it was some kind of pheasant, but if anyone knows, please let me know.

There were also some welcome signs of spring: a Cetti’s warbler was ‘Cetti-ing’ loudly and a chiffchaff was calling near Tar Lakes. The first Coltsfoot was in flower on the gravelly banks of the pit just opposite the entrance to the car park. It likes gravelly or stony places and there used to be a good show on the banks of the furthest of the Tar Lakes but they have now been invaded by grass and other plants. Even so, some were evident although not as advanced as those near the car park.

John Cobb, 11 March 2022