Having had a tip-off that last year's county bird of the autumn was still about at Forest Hill, I decided to take a late morning visit over there to see if I could add rose-coloured starling to my year list. The fact that it was a sunny day also meant that there was a chance of some better photos than last time I'd seen the bird. The news was not generally out about it still being present so there were no other birders about as I set up in position at the top of the road near the telegraph pole. From this vantage point it was possible to keep an eye on all the roof tops on the opposite side of the street as well as the telegraph pole itself.
After an initial lull there were quite a few starlings around and at one stage a dozen were all clustered on the telegraph pole. Some reasonable sized flocks of thirty or more were also moving about but none held the bird I was after. While waiting I noted that there were quite a few birds about in the street: besides the starlings there were a good number of noisy house sparrows and a pair of pied wagtails. I could see over a tall hedge into a garden where there was a tree in which some chaffinches and goldfinches were present. A flock of about fifty lesser black-backed gulls flew overhead as did a couple of red kites. I'd mentally decided that I would be back at 1pm which would mean leaving at around a quarter to. I looked at my watch and it was saying 12:41 so just another four minutes and I would go I said to myself. At that point I spotted a blob at the far end of the roof tops and a quick scope view confirmed it as the bird. I moved down the street to get a closer look and to take some photos and fortunately it stayed long enough for some half decent shots. It was looking rather scruffy so perhaps is not in the best of health. The person who saw it a few days earlier said that he'd seen it gagging repeatedly so it may not last that long. On the other hand perhaps it was just panting and perhaps rose-coloured starlings do look scruffy before they start to moult - who knows? Anyway, it was great to see the bird again and to know that it at least lasted through the snowy weather, though I suspect that the locals have been putting out food for the birds as it seems to spend most of its time in the back gardens behind the houses.
One of its commoner cousins on the telegraph pole in bright sunshine...
...however the sun had gone in by the time the star of the show appeared.
National Year List 2010
086 rose-coloured starling 21/01/2010 Forest Hill
Oxon Year List 2010
076 rose-coloured starling 21/01/2010 Forest Hill