Saturday 5 January 2019

My Luck turns Rosy in Oxford 3rd January 2019

On Thursday, after playing indoor football for a couple of hours in Witney, I went to try and find an adult or near adult Rose Coloured Starling that has been reported, on and off, as visiting a garden in a house in Botley on the southern outskirts of Oxford.

The owner of the house wished to maintain her privacy so if you wanted to see it you first had to use your initiative to find the location of the house and then stand in the public road and hope it would fly up from the back garden, which was invisible from the road, into the tall trees behind. I managed to find the location by some detection work and on arriving found Badger and another birder from Tring who I did not know, standing in the road and looking at a large tree at the back of the house and into which Common Starlings would regularly fly and perch.

I gathered the other two had been there for some time. In Badger's case three and a half hours and he had only managed a five second view of the Rose coloured Starling in the tree. The other birder had yet to see it. The lady in the house was not in so I felt less unease about invading her privacy as I looked at the tree rising up beyond a back garden in which presumably the Rose coloured Starling was currently feeding. All the other surrounding residents we met were friendly, welcoming and untroubled by our presence, which is usually the case in such situations provided one behaves respectfully and civilly

It was very cold and a little weary after my exertions playing football. I was about to leave to return home after a fruitless forty minutes of looking at a lot of Common Starlings in the aforesaid tree but sadly not the star attraction, when the house owner returned and on getting out of her car called over, inviting us into her kitchen to see the starling. I was a little taken aback by this as I assumed she was not keen on having birders intrude on her privacy but who in their right mind was going to turn down such a kind invitation.

The three of us duly trooped into her kitchen and after a few minutes staring out of the window and down into the back garden, the Rose coloured Starling flew into the garden and commenced feeding on the fallen apples.We chatted to the owner as the starling came and went and after twenty or thirty minutes the three of us felt we should leave as we had seen the starling well and did not want to intrude any further.

So a purely chance visit reaped an unexpected dividend and by way of thanks I sent the owner copies of the above images I took of the starling and Badger donated a bottle of wine.

The bird in question looked to be in adult plumage although not the bright pink and glossy black of a full adult male so possibly it was a female which is duller. The pink parts of its plumage were drab with a faint brownish wash and there was little sign of a crest. There were distinct brown areas especially on its nape and scapulars. The flight feathers were also dull and some looked to be browner rather than black although I am not particularly knowledgeable on Rose coloured Starling moult.

                                       A good start to my birding New Year.

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