Today, as a premature penance for xmas overeating, I bolted out into a nice sunny afteroon on a mild day spolit only by a pretty fearsome wind.
Sadly heavy waterlogging has taken Clay Lane out, so after watching a robin carry out a vicious mugging on one of his fellows at a birdtable next to the London Road lake cycle path, I had to take the rather boring Beacon Hill Road route to the nature reserve.
T'was worth it though, for as I ran along a rather muddy path wondering if I should see anything of note, a flock of birds suddenly erupted out of the scrubby cover that is covering the oil seed rape field section of the reserve at the moment.
I saw a lot of pale to white undersides, so my first instinct was "Oooh, flock of Fieldfares. Nice" - then I realised that they were far too small, and far too finchlike. Indeed the impression I had as they flew up into the top of the trees, was of a flock of about 50-60 very slimline finches with longish tails, and an impression of white wing and tail bars like a chaffinch.
Damn the fading light - it was 330pm by this time. The birds were pale underneath, with an orange-pink breast, but couldn't get a good view of much else.
Was thinking about them as I completed my route, along a very bank bursted Newark Dyke where the Barge pub is yards offshore and The Sonning pleasure cruiser appears to be parked up on the bank. The Moorings has booms and an emergency pump in manned by orange Hi Vizzes. The island is about a third it's normal size, the weir has no drop, just a brown foaming torrent.
Still thought about the birds as I tweeted about them, and wiki'd possible candidates. And wrote this article. My current feeling is 70:30 Whinchat:Brambling. But, as I know only too well, I know very little...