Sunday, 8 March 2015

At last - Hawfinches at Bramfield!

Bramfield Village - 4th February 15

Weather: Quite cloudy, with some sunshine. Not as cold as recent days.

Bird Total: 20
Plus: Grey Squirrel.

Today I was given another chance to try and locate the Bramfield Hawfinches by my good friend and Sunday night drinking buddy, Barry.

He picked me up from Harlow station and we drove down to Bramfield, arriving around 10.30. There were plenty of other fellow birders around already, including my mate Ron! Gluttons for punishment!

We had only been chatting and catching up for about 5 minutes when Barry, who had walked further into the church grounds, starting gesticulating wildly, calling us over. When we got to him he told us that he had heard and seen a Hawfinch high in the tree above us. Just as I looked up I spotted a pair of birds fly off, over to the trees opposite, the other side of the church.

So I stopped gobbing off to Ron and the others and started to concentrate on what we were here for - birding!

A few minutes later, just as I had walked around the other side of the church, a couple of birds caught my eye, high in the trees. As I trained my Bins on them I immediately thought: Hawfinch!

Ron came up behind me and confirmed it. They both gave quite good views and I could see all the subtle colours associated with them, including the defining large bill. Then a few seconds later 4 more birds flew in. I was delighted! In fact, so delighted I forgot to try and take some photos of them. Ron already had and got some quite good shots. Take a look at his Blog.

All 6 birds were in view, high in the branches, for about 3 or 4 minutes, before some Woodpigeons flew in and scared them all off.

Finally! A nemesis bird seen!

Feeling quite pleased with myself I agreed to walk over to the field beyond, to try and find the Little Owl that had been reported.

The next thing I saw was a dog taking his owner for a walk. It happened to be one of Barry's friends. The owner, not the dog. He knew exactly where the Little Owl was and had even photographed two together this very morning.

A few minutes later and we were standing about 20 meters away from it. The Owl was eyeing us warily and I'm afraid I got just a little too close as it got spooked and flew off, never to be seen again. Well, not today anyway.

Feeling even more pleased with myself I suggested to Barry and Ron that we should take a stroll down the lane we walked the other day. It was at the entrance to the lane that I saw that it was private property and to keep out. Well, we behaved like the good birders we were and ignored the sign, carrying on down the lane.

At first, it was a little quiet. Then we started to spot the birds. First up a Goldcrest flew past us, across the track. It wasn't a definite sighting, but it was so small it couldn't have been anything else. It's not small, just space-efficient!

Then we spotted a Song Thrush, high in the trees ahead of us, which was soon joined by 2 more. While we were looking at them a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew in. Then another. Then out to the left I could hear a Nuthatch calling. A minute later I spotted it, surprisingly hopping about, around the thin branches, instead of wandering down the tree as they usually do. On the return route we heard a Green Woodpecker yaffle out.

We stopped off by the church again, not seeing anymore Hawfinch and decided to give the Little Owl another look. Unfortunately it still wasn't around, but we did see another Great Spotted Woodpecker on the walk back.

Once back in the churchyard someone spotted another Hawfinch above us. I saw a black blob fly off, which may or may not have been the bird. Grey Squirrels hopped around the grounds and there were lots of Snowdrops in bloom. There weren't quite as many people around today, compared to the other day.

Some of them were complaining about the cold weather. As I've said before, there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!

Then a Robin called out and showed me his backside. Charming.

But, possibly owing to having had too much excitement for one morning, Barry had to head back for a hospital appointment. Just before we left we heard, then spotted, 2 Greenfinches.

He dropped me back home just before 1pm. On the way back we spotted a hovering Kestrel, above the road.

Excellent few hours birding!

'Hedgehogs - why can't they just share the hedge?'