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Saturday, 23 February 2013

Great Grey Shrike & Hawfinch at last!

Arriving at the GG Shrike site turning west at Wrentham then turning south past the church at the crossroads. Driving south down Guildhall Lane for a mile, I saw several cars parked at the side of the road and I eventually walked across and joined the small throng of birders watching the Shrike on a distant tree. The excellent Great Grey Shrike was perched on top of a tree in the distance lining the hedgerow on the southern edge of a field. It then flew down and perched in the hedge. Going a little closer, but stiking to the public footpath, the bird flew up to the tall tree again. It later flew over the hedge and was seen perched on the other side of the hedge. It then flew over to the trees bordering the road before flying back to its original tree. There was some talk of the bird maybe being of the southern race as it appeared to have a white throat and greyish wash on the upper chest. Although I didn't observe these features in the field and was only visible from John R's pictures (who I met for the first time today) when he had gone really close to photograph it. Chris B also arrived. Seeing Paul & Jane F, Roger, Morris and later Chris B. I decided to follow Paul & Jane F to Sotterley. It was bitterly cold there and we also saw Tony B & Daphne. Roy & Ruth H also joined us and in the dell a Nuthatch showed well on a knarled tree 15 foot up on the middle of the thick trunk and briefly on the ground too. A Marsh Tit was seen here too. A visit to the church was notable for the bitterly cold wind and display of flowering Snowdrops at the churchyard. back at the Dell, we were informed the inevitable had happened, the Hawfinch had been seen during our walk to the church and I had missed this yet again. However, this disappointment didn't last long as we were walking along the eastern edge of the lodge by the dell, 2 Redwings were seen here briefly in flight. A very sharp eyed Jane said "What's this?" implying this could be the bird and it was! A fantastic male Hawfinch perched on top a tall tree on the west side of the road by the bungalow with bird feeders. What a bird, with a humongous bill and subtle chestnut, brown grey shades to its attractive plumage, a very welcome sight after 28 previous visits without success!! I was literally numb with shock with finally seeing this species here, I've only seen one in the Dell previously in the last century! It showed well here for several minutes before 2 bird photographers (but not me!) flushed it by walking over far too close to it and onto the road to photograph it. It then flew to a tall tree by the lodge beside us, but I couldn't see it, until it flew out and flew south- east and out of sight. Meanwhile by the feeders, a Marsh Tit flew in and showed well very briefly. Wren seen in the garden, later.


Paul Woolnough said...

The hawfinch was definitely fantastic rather than just excellent, may I say.

My sighting last week was the first "self-found" hawfinch in the dell area. In the old days I would carry all my gear to the meadow which leads up to the church gate. I would scope the woods ahead of me. Even money whether a hawfinch decided to perch in the open and distantly.

Some years, including 2013, a hawfinch or two shows near the lodge and dell. No need to walk far this year, then!

Peter Ransome said...

Thanks Paul, yes I agree a fantastic bird!