Pyrrhula pyrrhula. By Matt Sewell.
My bird of 2010. Before last year my time spent with these pocket dynamos had been confined to the pages of my bird books and drawing them as bulky brutes. When he is the page after a Goldfinch and the page before a Siskin its not hard to picture the Bullfinch as a behemoth of the bird feeder, all neck and beak, ready to kick the head in of any poor soul looking for a few seeds.
A relocation to the northern hills last autumn has brought us a plethora of spotting and jotting and with these winter months i have had the pleasure to keep the company of a bellowing of Bullfinches. At first just a mere glimpse as we walked over the frosty slagheap but now after christmas a merry band of up to eight wait for me to euphorically chase them over the hill. That vivid pinky red breast and the black as coal balaclava colour combo is graphic perfection. Yet their playful yet shy buoyancy, petite frame and a lovely low pitched beep of a song renders them quite unlike the elephantine brawnyfinch i have grown up with. They really are as an enchanting bird anyone would hope to meet and i for one am wishing for a longer winter this year, i’m besotted.