Stephen Burch's Birding & Dragonfly Website
Hampshire, UK. 24 February 18
The great Hawfinch invasion of autumn 2017 was an unprecedented avian event and naturally I was keen to catch up with it. In my home county of Oxfordshire, they were being reported widely and I managed to connect with some of them, but generally the views were distant and of birds in tops of trees. There seemed to be nowhere that the birds were coming down to the ground. As the winter wore on, information emerged via local blogs of a previously unknown location in Hampshire where they were reputed to be tame, relatively undisturbed and regularly coming down to drink from a puddle and feed.
Reports from others were generally positive, despite some disturbance, so with a good forecast I took a rare day off work to try for them. But on this first visit, I didn't have much success, despite being on-site for around 4hours. It was only right at the end that I found a spot where birds seemed to coming down to feed (or suck) on cherry stones, which was less disturbed than the puddle round the corner, and seemingly unknown to other birders!
After this, others were still reporting considerable success, so with another good forecast for a Saturday a couple of weeks later, it seemed worth another try. Arriving mid morning, I found a few birders wandering around rather aimlessly, but I reckoned the spot I'd ended my last visit at would be worth another go. So that is where I headed for, and this time I came equipped for some judicious pruning before I got set up. Almost immediately a Hawfinch appeared, so close it more than filled the frame! Birds continued to appear at reasonably regular intervals, at varying distances. Most of my shots were somewhat spoilt by the nuts they seemed to be almost sucking or chewing on for long periods, but just a few were free from these.
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