Friday 29 December 2017

Ardington: 29 December

Ever since Leo first started posting records of Hawfinch from Ardington, I have been making sporadic brief visits to try to see them but without any success. Today, with more specific instructions I was resolved to try a bit harder. So I parked opposite the pub and walked back to the lane which runs parallel with the turn to the Lockinge Estate office. About 100m up this lane on the left is a wooden gate that affords reasonable views over a small field/paddock surrounded by tall trees on 3 sides (at about 51.593342,-1.379923).

On arrival, there was nothing to be seen, so I waited around for a bit.  After perhaps 1/2 hr, a Hawfinch flew into the top of a tree on the north edge of the field. It didn't stay there long, and then flew over the field to a v tall tree in the SW corner (which is adjacent to the driveway up to the Lockinge Estate office), where it was joined by a second bird. They stayed there for only a few minutes before flying left and vanishing.

It then started to rain hard, so I decided to try a walk around the village, which produced nothing, neither did a brief foray into the church yard, nor a quick return to the wooden gate.

The photos I got were definitely in the record shot only category:

Distant Hawfinches
For slightly larger images, go to my website.

Sunday 17 December 2017

Harwell etc 16 December

Last week I'd had an unproductive visit to Pit 60, so today I thought I'd just briefly investigate some local sites instead, in between family committments. Following recent BirdGuide reports of Hawfinch at Ardington, I tried there first but a brief visit to the churchyard and a slow drive around the village produced no sign.

I then tried the publicly accessible areas of Harwell Lab which can be good at this time of year for winter thrushes. Sure enough, as last week, there were plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares around. But both were quite wary, even when trying to use the car as a mobile hide. In the limited time available,  I had only one brief encounter with a fairly close Redwing.


Saturday 2 December 2017

Hawfinch hunt: Barnard Gate 2 December 2017

Having failed a couple of times to connect with the Hawfinch invasion, I was resolved to try to make this third time lucky. So having got some useful info from Gnome, I headed to the Eynsham Hall Gate House. Naturally come the weekend, the weather had changed so instead of the lovely blue skies and sub-zero temperatures during the week, it was now dank, very grey but still cold.

Arriving at c. 09:30 there was a Fieldfare in the laden berry bush in front of the Gate House, but no sign of anything resembling a large finch in the tree tops. And so it stayed. An hour passed without a lot happening, apart from Great-spotted and Green Woodpecker fly pasts. Another hour passed and I began to think about giving it up, but I resolved to give it until 12:00.

Just before I was going to leave, I made a phone call, whereupon midway through the call I spotted a couple of birds that looked just right for Hawfinch fly into a distant tree, behind the ones behind the Gate House! Cutting the call short, I was able to confirm the ID but they were not easy to photo, being obscured by a tree in front. After just a few minutes they flew down lower and disappeared. A good time to go and warm up in the car!

Hawfinch record shot