Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Goshawks & Hawfinches Galore

Our Two Owls group met this morning in the New Forest, the title of our walk was Goshawk & Hawfinch and despite it being cloudy and breezy we had a great day.

Our morning started with a Marsh Tit in the car park before moving up to the viewpoint to look for Goshawks, hopefully displaying.  On the way we saw many of the usual woodland species such as Robin, Blue Tit etc.  As we cleared the woodland and walked out onto the heathland at the top of the hill I heard a brief "tulee" call looked to my left and there, was a Woodlark which landed just ten metres from us and gave us some lovely views, though not for long before it realised we were there and it was off.  We moved on out to our first viewpoint which looks over a vast area of the New Forest.  We were rather early and with the cool dull conditions it wasn't ideal for raptors but you just have to give it a go.  Well it warmed a little though the wind persisted, while we waited we had Siskin over and the Woodlark started to sing then two birds were singing.

We must have put in at least half to three quarters of an hour watching and scanning before we picked up a single Buzzard then two and then another pair, we then had a tantalising very brief view of what was probably a Goshawk but in when behind some distant high pines.  A little time after one of the group asked "whats that" pointing up, I took a quick look and saw two birds the upper being another buzzard the lower second bird had a different 'jizz' altogether flatter wings, longer tail and a barrow-chested look, a Goshawk. I called Goshawk and managed to get everyone onto it as it started to cruise over the trees moving to our right.  We watched this bird for maybe two minutes before it disappeared into some distant trees. As we continued to scan a small finch sized bird flew into the top branches of an oak in my shop view and I could hardly believe what I could see it was a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

After a while without anymore luck we moved on to another viewpoint, as we arrived Joe calls Hawfinch but no one else got onto it before it disappeared.  A few minutes later I picked up another Goshawk but only a few managed to get onto it but Alan then said it had come back and we directed everyone on to it as it drifted left along the tree tops.  It then began to soar a little trying to game height.  It was at this point a second bird came in from the left and as they almost met both birds changed their flight action to a lazy kind of deep flap then they both went off in different directions.

We watched a little longer before heading off to explore the rest of the area, we hadn't gone far before we had two more Woodlark and a Raven cronked as it flew over. A little way further on some finch activity was noticed around a small copse of trees and when scoped it seemed to be mainly Chaffinch and a couple of Bullfinches.  Then as we continued to scan through the birds sat in the tree a Hawfinch was noticed, then another and after a short while we had at least a dozen birds.  Leaving the Hawfinch we moved on back towards the cars and on route we had sightings of a flock of Redwing  accompanied by a single Fieldfare and we had a perched Buzzard which showed well.  We also recorded a number of Mistle Thrush one of which was singing well living up to its "Storm Cock" name.  Back at the cars we all moved on to our afternoon location where we stopped to have lunch first before exploring the Aboretum.

Whilst having lunch we had fly over Siskins they seem to be very common this year. Starting our afternoon walk we added several more of the commoner woodland species like Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Goldcrests but it was a typical quiet winters day in the woods.  We then reach the arboretum where we came across a small mixed tit flock, heard Great Spotted Woodpecker and then picked our place to wait and watch to see what species came into roost.  It didn't seem long before the first Hawfinch were picked up by us hearing their 'tick tick' calls and two were located in the top of one of the pine trees.  One of these birds was positioned just right and gave excellent scope view much better than the feeding birds we had seen earlier.  We continued watching and had some nice views of Siskin feeding in a larch and then another pair of Hawfinch arrived.  Shortly after a flight of six birds that circled around and flew straight into one of the pines and disappeared from sight.  Now the afternoon was growing a little cooler the light was decreasing and everyone agreed they'd had great views, and some very happy to add a new species to their life list, we called in a day.

Though we didn't have a massive list we certainly had some quality birds which was all made easier by have a wonderful group to show around this superb forest.

Hawfinch © Nick Hull  

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