Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Deer me, rare finch failure

The snow from the other day has virtually gone and I thought I would go looking for rare finches today. Two species to be precise, Mealy Redpoll and Hawfinch. It would appear that most Redpoll flocks in the north-east are now turning up Mealies and there have been Hawfinch sightings at 2 spots in the Wear valley this week so I thought I'd have a try.
A Goldcrest in the hedge by the house was a good start. I quickly found what appears to be the only Lesser Redpoll flock in the Waldridge Fell area but it only contained 12 birds and certainly no Mealies. There were other finches around, a large flock of Chaffinch, good numbers of Bullfinch and 2, possibly 3 finch flocks, each holding 40-50 Siskin. As for Hawfinch, this has become a really rare bird now, not that it was ever common. I have seen this species twice in the past around here. Once a brief view of 2 birds in the woods at Lumley Castle, and secondly, much better views of a singleton at the Pelton end of the Cong Burn. So that's what I did next.

Part of Chaffinch flock

Walking from the village and then through the woods was  quite difficult as much of the pathways were very slippery with ice or were very slippery with mud, in other words very slippery. It was a tough, unrewarding slog through with very little to be seen. A few small Siskin flocks and a couple of single Lesser Redpolls and not much else. No Hawfinch but I thought I'd give Lumley Castle a go, so I carried on through South Burns and the town and over the river to Lumley Castle. I'd didn't go into the park to look at the waterfowl but did see a Kingfisher as it shot under the bridge as I walked over .... what excellent timing.

Rabbit by the golf course

The woods here were like the Cong Burn, very wet and quiet. A few more Siskin and 2 Great spotted Woodpecker but again no Hawfinch.  As I was rather damp, muddy and hungry I called it a day. By the time I got home it was quite pleasant and sunny so a quick bite and I was back on the fell with my camera.
The large flock of 60 Chaffinch I refound and checked again but still could not find a Brambling in with them. Males were outnumbering the females by 7+ to 1 and were probably continental birds not locals. Another Great spotted Woodpecker was seen and a dozen Redwing flew out of the bushes they seem to have spent all winter in. Pairs of Bullfinches were at many spots and certainly do not seem to have been affected by the cold weather.

Pair of Bullfinch

Wandering around I noticed two white flashes which turned out to be the back ends of two Roe Deer and gave rather good views.  They appear to be more difficult to see these days probably due to all the dogs, as the population generally is increasing well.

One of 2 Roe Deer seen on the fell this afternoon
Could not find any more redpoll flocks though there are very good numbers of Siskin and other finches around and as the sun dropped I headed home again.

The moon was on show all afternoon

1 comment:

  1. Funny that, i didn't find that trip out hard going at all. Very relaxing.