Friday, 29 December 2017

Draycote Water :: 28 December 2017

Yesterday in Banbury it snowed and, in the main, mostly melted. We arose to find a heavy frost but decided to continue with our plan to visit Draycote Water and see if we could see the hawfinch there. As we headed north there was a noticeable increase in snow on the fields and roadside. Between Southam and Dunchurch the road became quite treacherous and cars were slowing down to deal with the icy conditions - you could feel the car twitch on cornering. The Country Park had been closed early yesterday due to show and fallen trees.

@DraycoteBirding had pointed where the likely spots would be and so on arriving we quickly had hawfinch feeding on the ground in the small copse behind the park zip wire. HawfinchThe light from this position wasn't ideal and another birder was on the far side of the copse and was waving - later we found out he had the other hawfinch on his side.

After a short while the hawfinch moved right, further into the gloom and into a dip. While it's head was briefly visible there were no photos possible. We decided to circle the copse (bad idea) and see if we could get any views with the sun at our backs. Between our movement and some cyclists coming down the path the birds scattered and it took a good 15 minutes before the finches were back in any number, however without the hawfinch. We opted for a visit to the café for coffee and hot chocolate.

When we returned to the park the hawfinch had returned to the spot we had first seen it but quickly hopped right into a darker spot, the sun now directly behind the copse. No chance to improve the photos I had without perhaps spooking the birds again.

Today sighting (copse only) were: blackbird, bullfinch, chaffinch, dunnock, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greenfinch, hawfinch, robin, song thrush, woodpigeon and wren.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Thenford :: 17 December 2017

After last month’s failed attempt at seeing hawfinch, I was interested to read on @987jonty's twitter feed that there were still two or three hanging around Thenford Church. I'd been busy picking up my eldest daughter from Uni on Saturday and so after breakfast Sunday I made a quick visit.

Actually it was bloody freezing standing still watching across the lake to the yew and other trees on the far side of the lake. A few flyovers but none were hawfinch. I had been told to listen out for the flight call but the main sounds came from mistle thrush.

Without any success I dropped down the wall from the churchyard to the Hawfinchpath beyond and talked briefly to a small group walking their who helpfully suggested that the birds had moved on. Starting to rain I turned and saw a small group of finches at the top of a distant tree; predominantly greenfinch but one turned out to be hawfinch [#172]. I’d started to believe was a mythical creature but at last some success.

Sightings (16) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, coot, dunnock, greenfinch, hawfinch, house sparrow, mistle thrush, robin, starling, woodpigeon and wren.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Draycote Water :: 02 December 2017

It was a cold morning to go out but I needed to get some fresh air after a week indoors. I wanted to go to Thenford again to see if I could find a hawfinch, but in the end decided on Draycote Water. It looked like a bad choice as I left Banbury as the drizzle started to fall. I needn't have worried as it stopped by Southam.

The car park was quiet and I noted the payment machine has been upgraded to take contactless card payments - note to self. Decided for anticlockwise rotation and spotted good numbers of ducks, grebes and cormorants, plus a single shag. At the spit I spotted the black-necked grebe [#171] Black necked grebebut couldn't see any sign of the long-tailed duck; speaking to others confirmed no one else had seen it either. There appeared to a coach-load of birders and I stopped with a group of them as they scanned trees opposite. Turned out to be stunning pair of goldcrest.

Turned to head back as birders suggested there was nothing of any consequence further on. One chap was more disappointed the departure of the LT duck as he is sitting on 198 and looking for a couple of visitors to top the 200 for the year.

A short visit but good to add another species to the year list after a pause in progress.

Sightings today (33) included: black-headed gull, black-necked grebe, blackbird, blue tit, canada goose, carrion crow, coot, cormorant, dunnock, fieldfare, goldcrest, goldeneye, goosander, great crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, little egret, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, meadow pipit, mute swan, oystercatcher, pied wagtail, robin, rook, shag, tufted duck, woodpigeon and wren.