After an excellent day in Hampshire seeing the Greater Yellowlegs, I was looking forward to a day in North Wales hoping to catch up with some of the local birds.. I was planning the day ahead until everything changed: CITRIL FINCH, Norfolk. Damn! I must admit there were a few seconds where I hoped this bird was a flyover and not been seen since and that was the message that came through!! A couple of hours later through checking messages, news and seeing a picture of it, myself and Steff caved and went for the bird. Steff kindly offered to drive and so we were on our way down.
Despite a couple of early 20th Century rejected reports, there has been just one accepted British record of Citril Finch coming as recently as 2008 from Fair Isle therefore this was a must and a golden opportunity to see one. Arriving at Holkham and paying a London City parking price for a few hours, we had another half hour's walk west through Holkham Pines and into the dune system. As we arrived the bird was luckily on show, although not for long! We both saw it for seconds through someone else's scope and off it went. Short lived but we were reassured it would be back.
Around 35 minutes later it was, and it came back down into the dune system to feed. This allowed good opportunities for taking a couple of snaps and enjoying the beauty of this small finch. There's been much speculation of acceptance of finches, buntings and wildfowl in Britain as many are kept in collections or privately. The last Citril Finch was accepted after long deliberation and investigation through isotopes and research. It was thought that the Fair Isle bird (possibly this bird too!) originated from Germany with the Black Forest being a likely source.
It has been confirmed that Citril Finch are capable of movement and the furthest recorded individual has been recorded to have travelled in the excess of 600km. Birds have been known to tag themselves along with a migrating flock of Siskins and make significant movements.
With it being my first visit to Holkham Pines, it was remarkably interesting to see the similar habitat comparison to that of their breeding grounds. Yes, it's on a dune system at sea level, but this was the nearest it was going to get for a few hundred miles!
A top bird nevertheless! Since, the finch was seen very briefly on the following morning but no sign since. Holkham Pines is a huge area to cover though and a small bird could easily go missing in an area like that. With previous records of Red-Breasted Nuthatch,Black-and-White Warbler and Indigo Bunting to name a few it's a true little migrant trap where anything could turn up!