Stranger in Red

Photo: PK Read

Photo: PK Read


I was sitting at my desk yesterday when an unaccustomed flash of red caught my eye out the window. The weather has been dismal these last few days – unbroken rain and fog, so the red stood out. It was a bird I am pretty sure I have never seen in these here parts, not in the garden, not elsewhere. I grabbed, not my large camera with the super telephoto lens, but the camera on my desk, a Sony Cybershot with a sassy zoom. The results aren’t great, especially since we haven’t been able to prune the plum tree due to weeks of heavy snow and frost (excepting, of course, this week’s downpours). The bird proved to be less nervous than many of the regulars, and just sat there calmly getting wet but refusing to budge from its unphotogenic perch.

When I looked at the images, blurry as they are, I was still pleased with myself. What would this stranger turn out to be? Some wanderer, lost and off-course, up here from Tunisia or Spain? An almost extinct refugee from the Jura range?

Obviously, I’m not a very experienced birdwatcher, because upon closer examination (three minutes of Internet searching), it turned out to be a male Bouvreuil pivoine, a Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula). Apparently they travel and live in pairs, so I guess the female was on another, even less visible branch. Quite common across Europe and Asia.

Just a rarity in my neck of the woods.

A better bullfinch image Photo via

A better bullfinch image
Photo via

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