Friday, 17 November 2017

Hawfinch fest

Too busy to post lately, but I know pretty much everyone I know has connected with Hawfinch in the car park field. We began with 3, but I have heard of reports of 6 to even 11 in the late afternoon, which is a one off chance to enjoy a super shy species.

Dave Rimes even inspired me to look from my garden as he had one in his and we aren't far apart.

Most of know the news about the Ferruginous Ducks and the reintroduction programme in Germany, it is not proof that our metal ringed bird was one of theirs, but we can never be sure.

So I'm hoping for photo shots of Hawfinch tomorrow morning, missed my 3 early in the week, but light was rubbish anyway. 2 Bitterns about, cold weather could bring sawbills, Woodcock, Merlin, more geese fly overs, perhaps the 4+ Swans I had distantly were Mute's this morning, but who knows?

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Duck double double

Yesterday, I had a very underwhelming start, just very cold and not much happening. 3 Meadow Pipit and a Siskin over was the best bird.

Later Rick Dawson found a male Pintail in the unusual location of BSL near to Sandford, it showed well despite being asleep most of the time.

On my way back I told Brian and Trevor I felt like counting and checking the Pochard, as they showed a significant jump in numbers to 116 and 76 Tufted Duck, I left me thinking we need to keep checking for Athya's.

Out first thing again and the Barn Owl was in residence, a little passage was on, small groups of Fieldfare, totaling 65+ in 40 minutes, 60+ Redwing, I looped the car park field, quickly checked BSL 31 Pochard and as I was at my car 2 bulky finches went over fast East....Hawfinch again and again rubbish, fleeting views.

Later and thankfully after my work appointment, Steve Day WhatsApp'd "2 Drake Ferruginous Duck Sandford". "This I got to see" I said to myself and minutes later I was there, joined by Steve, then Brian before we re-camped at the hide, where excellent views were to be had of two superb condition, but distinctly different looking drakes .

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Cooling down

A welcome WhatsApp came in from Steve with a Bittern at WSL, I wasn't surprised and shot down later to take a look. It was on show immediately just right of centre, mid phase bird. It sat quietly preening until dark.

4 Water Rail called there, 1 more at Sandford, also there 32+ Pochard and a Starling roost of some size judging by the noise.

This morning, the air was much cooler even though there was virtually no wind at dawn, which was favourable for more passage. 5-6 Meadow Pipit are still pinging about, 5 Golden Plover went East, miles North as usual, just a few Chaffinch, but then 4 Hawfinch went low SE just beyond Lea Farm, then another appeared to be about to land out of sight to the right. I headed over along the path at the West end of the old manor grounds. - For those who don't know this Lord & Lady Palmer of 'Huntley & Palmers' biscuits once lived there.

Anyway the footpath tracks the perimeter on the West side and runs up the North flank, the tallest trees in the area run along it's East edge. I could hear various pitchy notes and feel one may have been nearby, but looking East I picked up 6 Hawfinch flying at tree top height, again looking like they might land, but they kept going and must have passed SE parallel to the golf course, but as they went out of view we shall never know if they landed.

Brian joined me but nothing more happened and we went off on a recky of the golf course's East side,but found nothing.

Back at the usual landfill viewing spot Brian and I kept scanning with no joy, but a Raven came in and went on South in a very casual way, no call. A lone Linnet went North, then 8-9 finches came over SW, one called the highly familiar Brambling upward 'Shwweeep' note.

By then I was good and frozen so went home to thaw out and drink tea and coffee and do family stuff. I came back later with my boy after Steve found 2 Brambling under the feeders, no sign for us though.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Getting close

A foggy start left me feeling a little frustrated, but I took a walk across the car park field and was soon rewarded with a Brambling, it called just once as it flew West with 2 Chaffinch.

I find myself on 136 with my missing Redstart still fresh in my mind, but as I missed Woodcock and it's not over for Curlew, Firecrest, Scaup, Smew, Merlin, or a wildcard species of goose, or swan, I could still pass my best of 138.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

At last

I feel like singing Etta James 'At Last'

For I have finally seen my Hawfinch for sure. My pain began again 19th October after seeing a probable over, bins not around my neck. But the pain began in October 13th 2010, when I saw a robust and short tailed bird moving over the car park field quickly North, I panicked and tried to get my scope on it, but failed.

So after 7 years and 9 days of possibles and probables, 2 went quickly and a little excruciatingly brief silhouette views as they 'bombed' across the DAC car park at 07:56. John and I went on a recky across the golf course and whilst we had 2 Redpoll, 13+ Siskin, 200+ Redwing, 20+ Fieldfare and a few other LBJ's, no further sign.

Back to usual protocol we camped up at the bottom of the car park field and witnessed fairly big Redwing passage of around another 200-300, another 100 Fieldfare, 6-8 Meadow Pipit  lingering still, more LBJ's and then as it got close to my sessions end, I got onto a group of bulky birds, quickly focusing I couldn't believe my eyes and blurted out "it's a whole flock of Hawfinch over the big Poplar", for a second they whirled in the air as if to land, revealing their short tails and large wing bars, but kept going onward over the Loddon, allowing a pretty good count estimate of 13-15 birds.

We're back out there tomorrow on the hope another group comes over and lands for a record shot!

Monday, 23 October 2017

Lots to report

In reverse order...

Today I went to meet the contractor again for the daily update and instructions, to guide the final stages of digging.

And before I even got to him a lovely male Wheatear was jumping around the Tern Meadow piles of soil, my latest by about 2 weeks, but 3 days shy of the latest.

Still small handfuls of Meadow Pipit are pinging about, perhaps the newly arrived sheep will move them on? Redwings are here in numbers, but not big numbers. This morning there were many small groups of finches going over, mostly South, or SW, but as is often the case, so few are seen close and well enough to ID, I'm sure I heard 1 Linnet, various Chaffinch, then a distant larger thrush may have been a Fieldfare, but it didn't seem to drag it's tail enough so was probably a Mistle.

Over the last week a lot has happened, 17th I  had what was almost certainly a Woodlark over, annoyingly just too East to be totally 100% sure, but I'm sure enough to add it to the year list. Same day 4-5 Mipits, 3 Skylark, 3+ Redpoll, 14 Siskin alighted the Willows late afternoon.

Mid morning 19th I was in the car park having a meeting, when a stocky short tailed finch went over West, 99% certain this was a Hawfinch and today John McGowan had a 100% one looking West from the Loddon near the green bridge, perched for 20 seconds, so we certainly are sharing in the UK invasion this winter.

20th Geoff picked up 2 Stonechat, Trevor made that 3 by late afternoon, next day Richard had 2 Mandarin, I had 2 Redpoll, 1 Siskin and a Peregrine over East low, Richard picking up 2 Green Sandpiper later.

Later still I heard rumours of Marsh Tit on the feeders, but as it stands I have no confidence in the report as Coal Tit is being seen daily at Bittern feeders.

22nd Richard found 2 Stonechat again, it's been days since I've been near Lea Farm and I feel out of touch.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Missing out?

With my hectic schedule I could not patch on Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday mornings and with so many Hawfinch being seen in neighbouring counties I felt the chance slipping away.

Same yesterday and today, potential maybe but with small birds firing in every direction and not enough time, still nothing to be certain about.

That said this morning offered some potential, 30+ Redwing around, 2 small groups of Lesser Redpoll, 3 Skylark, then annoyingly a shorter tailed lark - probably Woodlark went over South, but too far East to get onto properly due to the light and distance. Then also annoyingly 2 hirundines most likely House Martin fired thru over the landfill, but I lost them behind the nearby big Willow.

By late afternoon 14-15 Siskin landed in the trees behind Tern Meadow.