Friday, 19 February 2010

HAWFINCH delight


Although still very cold (5-6 degrees C throughout the day), it was a much brighter than of late, with long clear periods and some pleasant sunshine. It was also very calm. I decided to make the most of the conditions and did some local 'target birding', concentrating on some species I was missing from both my Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire Year Lists. It was partly successful. Bird of the day was undoubtedly HAWFINCH.


My main target bird here was Marsh Tit but despite searching from 1100-1330 hours and walking acres of forest. I just could not locate one bird or territorial pair. I played the calls of male Marsh Tit in many different suitable areas, including those very kindly recommended by local observers, but failed.

I had concentrated my efforts on Danemead Nature Reserve, where I had seen 6 Marsh Tits on some occasions in previous years, and was absolutely delighted to find at least two very vocal male HAWFINCHES in this area. The birds were feeding on the ground between the sheep field of Danemead Reserve and the main muddy footpath that leads down from the Ermine Street (Martin's Green) Car Park and as I walked past them, they flew up into the vegetation and called loudly. The sharp 'ticc' enabled me to locate them, allowing me to enjoy some superb views. The vegetation and branch makeup in this area was very dense and it is possible, certainly from the calling, that more birds were involved. Certainly, two bright males were sat close together. They sat calling for about five minutes and then, after several Chaffinches returned to the ground, they did the same.

To reach this area, one needs to park on Cock Lane in the car park aforementioned. Follow the muddy bridlepath NW and as it inclines after 150 yards, the reserve entrance and information boards appear on the left. Between here and the large blue plastic barrel, to the left of the track, are where the Hawfinches are.

Whilst not locating either Marsh Tit or Lesser Redpoll, the following species were encountered: Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker (2), Nuthatch (3), Great Tit (11), Blue Tit (16), Long-tailed Tit (9), Chaffinch (15) and SISKIN (4).


A LITTLE EGRET was feeding in the River Beane


Just 2 LONG-EARED OWLS remained in their favourite roost-site and alarmingly, on my arrival, both birds were purposefully flushed by some moronic local observer. I gave him a piece of my mind, but he walked away unconcerned. Just one very good reason why Long-eared Owl roosts like this MUST be suppressed at all costs. All five birds can all be seen safely and clearly in a 'scope from the bank above, so there is absolutely no need to flush them. Long-eared Owls love sunshine, so it was really a great shame that their roost-site was upset in a way like this. Once I had seen the two birds fly out of the ivy, I had a look under the tree, and there were at least 50 pellets. I wonder if anybody can make a use of them?

I also recorded 2 GREY PARTRIDGES and a RED KITE at the owl site.


  1. Fantastic,glad to see Hawfinches viewable in herts again,great pics, I was in the martins green carpark today at 12.30 ish eating my lunch as I am working in the area,should have had a walk down !

  2. Hi, we have just had our first visit from a hawfinch. It chirped quite loudly and insistently - well happy. Leavesden, Watford