A Hawfully Good Day

A day off today and on waking was undecided over where to go for a morning bird walk. My choice was between a walk from Axford up to the north-side of Savernake or the Water Park. My decision was made by the fact that I was running a little later than intended so I took the least traffic option which was to head south for Axford. Taking the back roads I spent a good part of the drive avoiding jaywalking Pheasants and stopping to check covey of Partridges in the fields, alas no Greys. At Axford I managed to park directly opposite the footpath and was soon heading for the river bridge. Straight away I was into the birds with Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and a Blackbird along the path. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling and whilst looking for it I noticed a small flock of birds land in an Alder by the river. a quick look confirmed my thought that they would be Siskins. I watched them for a few minutes, checking carefully for Redpolls. None were found but there were a few Goldfinches amongst them. In all I reckon there were almost fifty birds in the two Alders. Every now and then the birds would as one fly, do a circuit and return. Following them on one of these flights I noticed a lone bird perched atop another tree. Getting the bins on it I was amazed to realise that it was a Hawfinch, a totally unexpected bonus. It stayed for just under a minute before flying across the river and out of sight. A star bird and a long awaited Wiltshire tick, my third of the year, not bad considering the small amount of birding I have done. For a brief moment I considered calling it a day as topping a Hawfinch was unlikely. However I carried on and soon added Goldcrest, Treecreeper and two Great Spots to the list. Moving on a Nuthatch was heard and then seen along with a couple of Redwing. Ascending to the edge of the trees a couple of Jays flew by calling loudly. Three Red Kites and a Buzzard were overhead. In Savernake there had been a large amount of tree felling and there were few birds around. Wrens were heard but not seen in the undergrowth and a couple of Robins were about. I completed a circuit and was heading back to the northern edge of the wood when a good sized flock of mainly Coal Tits appeared. As is often the case they were high up in the trees and I soon got a sore neck while watching them. The day just kept on giving as alerted by some calls I got onto a group of around a dozen Crossbills as they flew over and out of view. Then I heard the distinctive call of Bullfinch and found a lovely male. I wasn’t so lucky on hearing a Willow Tit as despite several minutes of looking it couldn’t be found. Time was moving on and I needed to be heading back to the car. On the walk back I added Raven and then along the river, Heron, Little Grebe and Grey Wagtail to bring the day total up to thirty-six. Not a great quantity but the quality was outstanding.

4 responses to “A Hawfully Good Day

  1. I can feel the mounting excitement throughout your writing! Great find on the Hawfinches and all the others! A positive day..

  2. Top day for you Malcolm and wonderful to read these reports again: not just the birds but also your honesty over your recent bereavement.

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