I had the day off work today and to be honest I hadn't really planned to do anything. That all changed though when I checked my e-mails and saw that the Coues Arctic Redpoll had been showing for the last 3 days in Bedford. The idea of seeing this bird was too good an opportunity to miss so after loading the location into the sat nav and dropping Aimee off to school I was on the way to Bedford. Upon arrival the weather was awful, dry but very windy. The area of trees it seems to prefer are the tall trees around the Bedford Football Club training pitch, and these are best viewed from the road as it heads up to a bridge - but due to the wind I couldn't help thinking that the more sheltered areas on the other side of the bridge near to the sewage farm would have been preferable but a quick searched proved fruitless, and with the exception of a few Siskin there wasn't much in there at all. So I headed back onto the bridge and by now a sizeable crowd had developed, and they all had the same idea as me and were searching in the sheltered areas for signs of the Redpoll flock (it had been associating with a dozen or so Lesser Redpoll with a few Mealies thrown in). Then in amongst the trees around the football ground a flock of small birds could be seen flying from tree to tree, and they settled nicely in a birch with overhanging branches, A look through the scope found the bird almost straight away feeding with 2 Mealies, it was almost pure white underneath and looked like a small snowball in the tree, with a thin black line under the tail. It was a really good comparison with the other Redpoll feeding close to it, and at one point you could see the white of its under parts with the naked eye from the road it was that bright. Unfortunately at this point a lorry came past and spooked all the birds into flying across the road and into the sewage farm grounds, loads of birders ran across the road to join them (including one poor chap who couldn't find the bird despite 3 people trying to point it out to him) but I stayed to chat to a couple of locals, one of whom had found it a few days ago - a real testament as to what can turn up on your local patch! I stayed for a couple of hours more but although the flock was moving about they never really settled, and when they did they settled so far into the undergrowth a good view would have been impossible. So I turned my attention to some Siskin which were showing ridiculously well behind everybody, literally just feet away from the road, so while everyone else was looking forlornly into empty trees I grabbed this digi scoped clip of one of the male Siskin in the tree behind us all.
At this point I decided to call it a day and head back home leaving the other late comers to connect with the Arctic Redpoll. Finally my run of dipping has finally ended after a month of missing everything I went after, today I gripped not dipped!!