Monday, 26 February 2018

Hawfinch makes a 2018 appearance

Since my last post, as with many other local inland water bodies, Oystercatchers have returned.  The first bird was seen during half term week, when I was away.  I caught up with my first bird last week on the 21st and by the weekend, there were two.  They have never bred here, though last year there were signs that they might, but there are usually 2-4 birds around until the summer.  Last year a pair appeared in mid summer with a well grown youngster and stayed a while.  They may well have been signs of local breeding success.

Prior to last Autumn, the only patch Hawfinch I had seen and I think was also a patch first, but I'm not sure on that, was a female that spent some time around the churchyard during the first winter of 2006.  This is not an area that I actually stop to look around very often, though I had been doing very slow drive bys as I passed in the hope of seeing a Hawfinch sitting up in the trees.  Last Friday, the 23rd, Tom C actually stopped to look properly and came across at least three Hawfinches in trees around the churchyard and also in the adjacent manor house.  Further sightings that day revealed at least five birds.

Saturday morning found me actually in the churchyard for once and it was not long before I could hear the distinctive call of Hawfinch.  Three birds eventually appeared, either feeding in yews or atop tall trees calling.  It was difficult to tell exactly how many were there, but I think at least five and possibly more.  They weren't together in one flock at any time and the most I saw at one time was three as they flew over.  That morning, I met David B, a birder I don't know, who said that he thought he'd had a Hawfinch here on January 26th, so these birds could have been here for some time undetected.  It is fantastic to get the chance to see these birds again on patch and also to actually see them on the deck as opposed to last year's migrating birds, lovely though those were.  I only managed one reasonable record shot of a male, but hope to be able to get better views if they stick.

Also present that morning was a male Blackcap feeding on Mistletoe.  This was my first of the year anywhere, so nice to get it on patch. There was also singing Nuthatch and a pair of prospecting Ring-necked Parakeets.  A reminder that you should always check all corners of your patch rather than just concentrate on the favoured areas.

I have been checking the gull roost as often as I am able, but it has been fairly unproductive in terms of the scarcer gulls to date.  Yesterday, despite the freezing easterly blowing right in my face, I decided to check it again.  I had been surprised at the lack of Med Gulls amongst the 5-6,000 smaller gulls, especially as mid February through March is one of the best times to pick them up on passage.  I had also missed a lingering daytime bird a few weeks back.  Anyway, it was with no great surprise that an adult Med Gull did arrive in the roost yesterday.  The black hood was almost complete, just a few white feathers above the bill and hopefully the first of a few this season.  A short while later, a nice 1st winter Caspian Gull appeared, though as with past birds this year, something disturbed the gulls and the Caspian flew off.  I've had four Casps so far this year, three 1st winters and an adult and all the 1st winters look to be different birds.

I keep hoping for an Iceland/Glauc and will continue to check the roost when I can.  Now off to brave the cold weather again to see what I can find.....

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