Saturday February 24th 2018
A beautiful, cold and bright morning, with the frost rapidly disappearing as the sun warmed up the hill. The sunshine and the warmth encouraged a few birds to start singing, with Dunnocks and Great tits the most vocal. The Rooks have already started nest building, with eight nests already taking shape in each of the main rookery areas, and many birds collecting twigs and flying up to the colony to start new nests. These are still pretty flimsy structures at this stage and there was a lot of robbing of nest material going on.
A Great spotted Woodpecker flew across and started drumming on an old, dead branch, the resonance being particularly good, and far more impressive than the drumming sound of its rival, emanating form somewhere off to the east. Later on, I saw another woodpecker feeding on pine cones, but as I was watching the drumming bird, my eye was caught by 2 small, chunky birds high in the canopy of a Beech tree behind. They looked interesting, but difficult to make out, but when eventually one came in to view and turned its head, there was the unmistakable, massive bill of a Hawfinch. So, perseverence had finally paid off and a new species has been added to the regular monthly count totals, one that had been seen by other birdwatchers last month on the hill, but which had, up until now eluded me. There were 3, possibly 4 in the tree tops, feeding on the end of the twigs. And later on, I saw another bird, much lower down and closer to me, so I was able to get a much better view of that bill. There are still groups of Hawfinches being seen in lots of areas further south in England, so it will be interesting to see if these birds stay around; the problem being that they are so quiet and secretive, they are easily overlooked.
There were few other finch species to be seen today, just the usual Chaffinches, but a Pheasant was an infrequent visitor. Three Roe deer does were lying up in their usual haunt in the Braeport meadow area and whilst the predominant colour at ground level is still brown, there are now lots of clumps of vibrant white Snowdrops and, amongst the emerging Daffodil leaves I located one bright yellow flower.
Click here to see the bird report for February 2018. Links to all Chris’ blogs, and a note about his survey method, can be found here.
Image: Wikipedia. Mikils: “Male Hawfinch near Florence, Italy”. Released under CC BY-SA 4.0.