As we head towards the first day of spring, winter decided it still had a lot more to give. With the latest “Beast from the East”, including heavy snowfall and bitterly cold eastern winds being predicted, I wandered down to the village Church Yard to check on the local Hawfinches. Heavy snowfall in the morning gave way to sunshine in the afternoon and thankfully at least 4 Hawfinch remain within the area. The Constant “Ticking” as the birds called to each other, meant the opportunity for these elusive birds to put on a show, and as the light levels increased they decided to sit out on top of the Yew trees.
A quick hours birding after work was very fruitful with 4 Hawfinch in the garden, 2 Common Buzzard, 1 Crossbill, 1 Goshawk and a mixed finch flock over 250 strong including 50+ Brambling.
A couple of days holiday and a couple of days winter birding. The decision to stay relatively local due to the short time available meant catching up with birds I’ve missed so far this year.
Both mornings got off to a good start with Hawfinch present in and around the garden, with a single bird on Monday and Three visible on Tuesday.
Monday mornings first stop was at Wykeham South Lake and we were greeted by a flying Barn Owl near the viewing platform. The lake itself however was very quiet, with only Egyptian Goose and mostly common wildfowl.
Onto Seamer Large Pools and a good number of Geese present with 2 Pink-Footed Geese and a Tundra Bean Goose mixed in with the resident Greylags and Canadas. A walk around Star Carr produced Little Egret and Grey Partridge.
Onto Filey and a stop of at both the Dams and the Country Park wasn’t really worthwhile as both areas were very quiet with only common species seen.
After lunch a visit to Flamborough and a Greenland White-Fronted Goose was seen from the Water Lane Flooded area. Subsequent walks around the Cliff top fields were also quiet, but a further Barn Owl on the way home made up for it.
Tuesday’s visit was to South Gare to see what was in that area. We stopped off at Lockwood Beck but only a Pink -Footed Goose was worthy of note. South Gare was its normal bitterly cold weather and thankfully the long staying flock of c70 Twite were showing very well. The birds were incredibly flighty and would only feed for a couple of seconds before moving on.
Wader wise Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Knot, Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatchers and Bar-Tailed Godwit were seen, whilst on the sea Red-Throated Divers and a solitary Harbour Porpoise.
Having never ever seen a Hawinch feeding on the ground, and with the large numbers still around the local area, I was beginning to think I never would. However this week, not only did I see the said birds feeding on Haw berries off the floor, but also they were in my garden. Its obvious that I’ve been trying far to hard, and rather than going chasing all over the place I should have stayed put.
Hawfinch numbers continue to swell within the village with 11 now seen around the Churchyard, Dog Kennel Lane and Church Lane. The cold spell with the snow and ice has meant the birds still can’t be pinned down for very long and you really need plenty of patience to get any kind of views.
Strangely enough a Ring Ouzel has been found just near the Church in Brompton. As Hawfinches have been seen in the Churchyard there, a keen Birder also found the Ring Ouzel whilst searching the area. So passing Brompton a quick dash to see the bird was taken. Whilst Ring Ouzels generally appear as one of the earliest Summer Migrants, this bird has decided to winter along with the Fieldfares and Redwings.
Its not very often I would spend 2 days on the local patch but as the recent Hawfinch eruption continues to grow, the weekend was spent searching local areas where the birds might possibly be located.
Saturday was the most prolific day with birds seen in my Garden, 6 in Church Lane, 3 in the Church Yard, 2 in South Lane, 3 in Rectory Lane and 2 others in Dog Kennel Lane.
Sunday the birds were a little more elusive with a single bird in the NP Car Park in the Centre of the village, 3 Birds in Rectory Lane and 7 Birds in the Church Yard area.
Also seen was the over wintering Green Sandpiper on Thornton Carrs and a Grey Wagtail on the stream.
Sadly the day will eventually come when the Hawfinch disperse from whence they came and we will look back at this period as Halcyon Days. Until then make the most of it.
Just before Christmas a Desert Wheatear was found near Whitby Abbey on the Cleveland Way. I saw the bird then but it was always very distant and far to far away for any photos. In fact without a Scope it was not possible to see it.
However the bird has remained into the New Year and as I’m working no more than a couple of minutes away, I popped around at lunch time and the bird was only a few metres away from the Car Park flitting in typical Wheatear fashion between the fence and stone wall. The bird is a 1st Winter ♂ but it was much closer and easy to view in the brief time I was there. Also present was a ♂ Stonechat.