28th March

Sunshine was again the order of the day but birding on the land was hard work and largely unrewarding in a freshening and chilly northeasterly. Migrant numbers were stuck at barely more than ones and twos of routine fare, with 3 White Wagtails at Reap Lane and another Bullfinch at the Obs the best of the minor oddities. The sea was little better in the offshore wind, with 33 Common Scoter, 2 Red-throated Divers, a Great Crested Grebe and a Little Egret the best off the Bill.

A first White-speck of the year was a surprise in the Obs garden moth-traps.

Our little looks at ageing and sexing were supposed to just low-key dippings into whatever we came across rather than being in any way systematic but, having done a young Bullfinch a couple of days ago, it was probably inevitable that one of the next birds out of a bag should be an adult Bullfinch - this really wasn't rigged! We're known for being very conservative when it comes to ageing and try to avoid the temptation to look too hard for very subtle features - our experience is that doing so more often than not leads to mistakes. This adult certainly fell into the glaringly obvious category, with its nice blue gloss to all the major covert tracts and neat greyish-white tips to the greater coverts and carpal covert (the latter is the little covert feather tucked between the greater coverts and the alula - it's brown tipped in a youngster)...

...given a good field view we'd have thought the correct ageing of this bird would have been quite do-able © Martin Cade: