Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Hawfinches galore !!

The weather forecast predicted a glorious winter day with sunshine, blue skies and gentle breeze and for me that was a "green " light to head north and visit some of my favourite haunts.
As dawn broke there was a dramatic red sky which was quite eerie at times.  First stop was a frosty East Carlton Country Park . A walk around the park produced 10 Siskin, 2 Lesser Redpoll, several Marsh Tit and Nuthatch.  During my walk I had seen 2 Hawfinches in flight heading towards the big house so I spent some time loitering around this area. I could hear Hawfinches calling and managed to track down 6 birds which showed well. At one point they were feeding on the ground alongside some Redwings near to the car park.
I took a slow drive along the Welland Valley to Wakerley .The drive took longer than anticipated because as I drove through the village of Gretton I saw the distinctive silhouette of 2 Waxwings perched on top of a bush opposite the church. As I watched them they gave their lovely trilling call before flying further into the village. I continued driving but stopped again at Harringworth Viaduct because there was a large area of flood water which was full of birds, mainly Wigeon, Lapwing and approx 200 Golden Plover. Scanning the birds revealed a Shelduck and an Egyptian Goose.
I eventually arrived at Wakerley Great Wood where a good walk round produced very little. In fact it really was a case of " the silence was deafening". Quite bizarre, not a single bird could be seen or heard !!.  The highlight of my walk was a group of 12 Bullfinches sitting together which looked like jewels shining in the bushes.  
One place which always seems to attract good numbers of birds is nearby Blatherwycke Lake and today was no exception. The lake itself and nearby fields were very "busy" with birds.  There were at least 28 Mandarin Duck present with some of the males showing off their colourful plumage to the females they were trying to impress.  There were also 4 Shelduck in this area of the lake. 
I have discovered that if you walk the short distance to the churchyard you get a different view of the lake and from this vantage point I saw a Black Swan, 2 Little Egret, 2 Goldeneye, Water Rail and 2 Grey Wagtail.    The churchyard itself attracts good numbers of birds and along with Coal Tits, Great Tits etc there were 2 Hawfinches. These two birds were initially sitting in a Yew Tree before dropping to the ground and feeding .
I can highly recommend the Skylark Cafe at Fermyn Wood Country Park, especially the home made soup and cakes, which I treated myself to before heading off for a good walk.  I noticed that they have a camera monitoring the bird table and the pictures can be viewed from the comfort of the cafe on a TV screen.  Whilst I enjoyed my lunch I watched the antics of the Robin, Chaffinches and Blue Tits which visited the bird table. Worth keeping an eye on as you never know what might appear.
Whilst walking from the car park towards the wood I checked the bushes and noted that there were quite a few Redwing and Fieldfare about and I saw 2 Hawfinch perched on the top of a bush.  As I walked closer I could hear at least a couple more calling. Unfortunately for me a party of school children were rapidly approaching and as they drew level with the bushes at least 6+ Hawfinches flew out and headed towards the wood.
As I walked through Lady's Wood I noted that there was a great deal of forestry work that had been done and was still being done. This is an area which is very good for Purple Emperor, White Admiral and Hairstreak butterflies so it will be interesting to see whether this work will have an impact on these.
The only other birds of note seen during my walk were 4 Ravens and a few Siskins.
It certainly was a lovely day to be out and about and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do so. Throughout the day I was accompanied by Red Kites wherever I went and their evocative calls filled the air.  But it wasn't just the birds who were the stars, it was also a stunning male fox, a couple of hares racing around after each other, both fallow and roe deer watching me from the depths of the wood, the stunning carpet of snowdrops at Blatherwycke and finally as I drove home I saw some very young lambs standing with their mother enjoying the last of the day's sunshine.

Regards Eleanor
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