Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Tuesday 30th January 2013

 Yew shoots littering the ground - plucked off by Hawfinches?  Give it another month and the churchyard will probably look something like this:

Two Hawfinches still present in St Margarets, and I was pleased to see that a Red Kite was also reported over (per Colin Mount).  The Treecreeper that was seen on a couple of opccasions over the weekend still eludes me - I can now look all those folk who have missed the Hawfinches recently in the eye and say, "I know what it's like"!  Anyway, at the risk of boring you all a couple of snaps from yesterday morning (in the wind and rain):

Monday, 28 January 2013

Monday 28th January 2013

Nice to see a couple of the St Margaret's Hawfinches in some decent light this morning - one of the females sat out in the early morning, sunning itself.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was in the large ash.  I wish the weather had lasted - I rode home in near gale force winds with the rain lashing against my face!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Saturday/Sunday 26th/27th January 2013

Dappled shade - something that's been absent for near on 4 weeks.  A graveyard isn't the place I'd normally choose to spend my weekend, but the Hawfinches more than made up for it.

Snow, rain sunshine - all seasons in one weekend.  Sunday had all the promise of Spring, but I won't tempt fate.  I stayed local and spent a few hours catching up with the Hawfinches in St Margaret's churchyard.  A couple of the birds showed reliably on both Saturday and Sunday early morning but became more elusive as the day went on.

The arrows are back!

The feeders have managed to attract Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, along with Chaffinches and a few Greenfinches, but no Hawfinch as yet which seem much more content staying high in the Ash and occasionally dropping down to feed in the yew trees.  

A heavily cropped shot taken from quite some distance but shows very well the difference in size between Greenfinch and Hawfinch.

Even heavier crop to show what a beast of the bird the male is.  Bullfinch would have been a more appropriate name for this species rather than being assigned to their smaller cousins.

A number of Kent birders also visited (Hi Sian, Mark and Gavin) but with mixed success!  However a couple of birders reported Treecreeper both Saturday and Sunday, and a Common Buzzard drifted over on Saturday afternoon - both birds rarer birds in Barming than Hawfinch (the Treecreeper would be a first for me on this part of the patch).

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Wednesday 23rd January 2013

I only managed a quick check at St Margaret's churchyard, Barming this morning - no Hawfinch for me today but a Sparrowhawk, Grey Heron and Green Woodpecker all put in an appearance during my brief visit.  However I was very pleased to see that Colin Mount had been successful in locating and photographing one of the Hawfinches later in the day - see he's cracking photo by clicking here.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Tuesday 22nd January 2013

The sun made an attempt to shine at first light but soon disappeared into the murk (and smell of French gas!).

A quick sortie of the churchyard turned up a Hawfinch again along with 15+ Greenfinch, 40 (!) Cormorants over south along with a single Lapwing.  A Green Woodpecker was also seen desperately seeking out food.

At the Research Station, East Malling the Fieldfare feeding frenzy continued amongst the crates of discarded apples.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Monday 21st January 2013

With snow on the ground and a walk rather a cycle into work, I didn't try for the Hawfinches today (I think we all need a break!), but instead posted a picture of St Margaret's church where the birds are residing.  The  first birds of the day were a couple of Black-headed Gulls sitting out on a snow-laden roof.

The byway alongside Oaken Wood was a real winter wonderland, and held 15x Yellowhammers along with small groups of Blue and Great Tits.

At work on the Research Station, East Malling, 14x Lapwings were seen flapping over south-west and some discarded crates of apples was the site of a Fieldfare feeding frenzy.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Sunday 20th January 2013

So the snow eventually came, I know it's not what everyone wanted but at least my kids were happy!

Most of the day was spend building snowmen, snowballing and sledging.  The advantage of the sledging was that the main slope lies to the south of St Margaret's churchyard, and yes you've guessed it, I occasionally glanced across the treetops for the Hawfinches.  Again I was lucky and saw one bird on five separate occasions (in between sledging runs) - at the risk of boring you all I've included a couple more snaps below:

The only other bird of note was a Robin constantly hoping on and off the sledging slope.

Back at home, my garden was visited 3x Yellowhammers, only the second time in 6 years I've had them actually in the garden.  There were also increased numbers of Blackbirds and masses of Collared Doves.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Saturday 19th January 2013

Not quite the snowstorm the kids expected - you can almost see the disappointment as they walk away from  the 'green' sledging slope (that 'hunch' reminds me of the post-match scenes outside the Molineux!).  I was lucky again to see three Hawfinches briefly at 08:00 in St Margaret's churchyard, Barming sitting on their own in the large ash tree.  The fallow field to the north of Church Lane was alive with birds as I walked back home, and it was good to see a large flocks of Meadow Pipits (28+), Linnets (50+) along with 3 Skylarks.  Fieldfares and Redwings were constantly on the move overhead - a conservative count of 120 Fieldfare over on the short walk back to South Street.  

I popped back out to the churchyard with my lads later and had views of a single Hawfinch on and off from 09:45 until around 11:00 when it flew off low west, just as a couple of birders turned up in the car park.  I spent the next 30 minutes or so looking for it with them and another couple as it looked like it had dropped into one of the yews and so was hopeful it would reappear, but we'd no luck by the time I left, I just hope the birders who I left behind were successful in seeing it.

Friday 18th January 2013

The first dusting of snow brought some winter thrushes into the glasshouse area at East Malling Research to feed on discarded apples.  Hopefully the Waxwings will be back if the weather stays cold and the snow cover increases.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Thursday 17th January 2013

What a cracker of day - sunshine and shadows, all things that have been sorely missed over the last three weeks.  Three Hawfinches were in St Margaret's churchyard this morning, favouring the cherry and ash trees on the southern perimeter of the churchyard.  A Song Thrush was also hopping around.

At lunchtime I grasped the opportunity for a short visit to Ditton Court Quarry.  I had hoped that I'd stumble up the 50+ Waxwings that had been seen briefly on the research station on Monday, but instead I was rewarded with my first Redpolls of the year, 8 or so Lessers suspended from the alders cones.  A pair of Bullfinch looked very dapper in the winter sun, a couple of Song Thrushes hopped around, all watched over by a Kestrel.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Sunday 13th January 2012

A day of mixed weather with some sunshine (whey hey!) and snow.  I checked out the churchyard at St Margarets on three occasions today and saw a single Hawfinch on each trip.  The bulky silhouette of a Hawfinch could be seen atop of the large ash tree as I walked down Church Lane on my first visit around 8am (see photo), and it showed on and off during my subsequent visits in the afternoon (13:30, 14:30) last being seen just before 3pm.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday 11th January 2012

I was pleased to catch up with Kieron of Offham Birds fame this morning at St Margaret's this morning, and as I walked down Church Lane towards him a Hawfinch popped up into the top of the tall ash tree. A life tick for Kieron and a little later more prolonged views before I had to head out to work.

My advice to birders would be to avoid visiting the area on SATURDAY as I imagine there will be little chance of seeing the birds due to disturbance caused by an event at the church and parking and viewing opportunities are likely to be very limited. 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thursday 10th January 2013

Up to two Hawfinches were reported again from a very misty and dull St Margaret's churchyard today.  Sightings, predominantly of a single bird were reported on and off from 08:30-14:30, usually favouring the trees on the southern perimeter of the churchyard.  Linnets, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, a Mistle Thrush and a Goldcrest provided a supporting cast.

PLEASE NOTE:  I've been reminded by the churchwarden today that he new vicar of St Margaret's will be installed in a ceremony at the church this Saturday (12th) and consequently the church, churchyard and car park areas are likely to be extremely busy with cars and people setting up and attending this ceremony.

My advice to birders would therefore be to avoid visiting the area on SATURDAY as I imagine there would be little chance of seeing the birds due to disturbance and that parking and viewing opportunities are likely to be very limited.  Sunday will be quieter!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Wednesday 9th January 2013

Sorry if this is all getting boring, but there was a Hawfinch still present in the trees on the southern perimeter of St Margaret's churchyard at 08:20 this morning, along with a Goldcrest and a small flock of Greenfinches.  No arrows today - but Hawfinch on right and two Greenfinches on left to give a good size comparison.  I know the photo looks like it was taken using night vision, but this is how bad the light was at 08:20 this morning!

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Tuesday 8th January 2013

Cycling to work this morning I met John Clements on his way to St Margaret's churchyard to chance his luck   with the Hawfinches.  He later phoned to say he had seen one bird and another had been reported so they'll still around.  No such luck with the Waxwings on Broadwater Farm, East Malling at lunchtime, although I'm sure they're still around.

Also thanks to James Hunter who emailed me to tell me he caught up with one of the Hawfinches on Sunday morning, a photo of which is posted on surfbirds. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Monday 7th January 2013

I was pleased to hear from Mike Hook this afternoon informing me that he had seen and photographed one of the Hawfinches in St Margaret's Churchyard, Barming this morning.  Thanks for the update Mike.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Sunday 6th January 2013

No sign of the Hawfinches today on the three of visits I made to the churchyard (09:40, 11:00 and 13:30) but good to catch up with some more local birders (Donna, James, et al). Undeterred by the mist I followed up a report of Waxwings in East Malling, and quickly found a flock of 20+ birds amongst a large, mobile flock of Fieldfares and Starlings.  The birds were mostly distant, and in the mist, but eventually some of the birds ventured nearer and I managed a few snaps in poor light.  The number of birds in these orchards were significantly higher than those seen this winter on the research station land where most of the apples were picked or cleared from the trees this season.

Loads of birds to look through!

Saturday 5th February 2013

I was lucky to connect with 3 Hawfinches this morning in St Margaret's Churchyard.  I spotted them from the playing fields where my youngest lad was football training and watched them for 5 minutes or so around 10:20 between they took flight with a mixed flock of Greenfinches and Linnets.  Up to eight Yellowhammers were also seen in the trees on the northern perimeter of the churchyard.  I visited the churchyard a couple more times later in the day but didn't see the Hawfinches again.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Thursday 2nd January 2013

Belated Happy New Year to you all!  2013 has started well with the reappearance of the pair of Hawfinches in Barming.  I caught a brief glimpse of them in the field maples on the east side of the South Street playing fields at 09:45 this morning, but got much better, and prolonged views in St Margaret's Churchyard, Barming from 11:45 onwards.  The birds were often seen in the large ash tree that is just south-east of the church, and they were often in the company of a small flock of Greenfinches.  The birds were not always together and sightings of one or the other of the pair were also had in the Oak tree to the west of the church and also in the smaller trees on the eastern and southern perimeter of the churchyard.  The Hawfinches would linger for a short period, disappear on feeding sorties to both the east, south and north of the church, often flying out of sight, but often returned within 5-10 minutes during the period I watched them. As I left a male was still perched in atop the ash tree, but was seen to fly off strongly north as I walked back home.  Both the Hawfinches and Greenfinches were seen to go into the largest Yew tree in the churchyard - I wonder if this may be a roost site for them?

Also seen were 26 Linnets, 4 Yellowhammers and a Skylark in the stubble field N of Church Lane, GS Woodpecker, Sparrowhawk, Mistle Thrush, 2x Song Thrush, 3x Redwing and 17x Fieldfare in the churchyard.