Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.

Wednesday 20 March 2013


I stole the mother ship line from Steve Gale's blog. It's such a great description of the flock of Hawfinch at Juniper Bottom near Mickleham I had to use it (apologies Steve for the plagiarism)!

While spring has struggled to splutter into life and having watched more than 50 Hawfinch two weeks ago along the bridle way near Box Hill, I couldn't resist going back a couple of times last week. The Hawfinch were very mobile, as always, and split up into small groups, but Steve's mother ship flock were always close by.

The most I managed to roughly count was about 80 birds on Saturday at around 1pm. Opinions vary on their origin. A keen Hawfinch observer from Essex I met on Saturday (I've forgotten his name though) reckoned they came over from the continent. Others think it possible they have been here all winter. Wherever they are from, these Hawfinch are enigmatic to the last.

They follow a certain pattern of behaviour. They settle in the trees early before flying off for about an hour then return in small groups, followed soon after by the Steve Gale mother ship flock. On Thursday, for example, some later perched high in a beech tree while most disappeared to ground, most likely to feed. A few popped back up into view and they could be clearly seen wiping their bills clean on the branches.

Hawfinch on Thursday morning
Two of around 50 Hawfinch along Juniper Bottom on Thursday morning
Two of around 80 Hawfinch along Juniper Bottom on Saturday morning
On Saturday the flock stuck around until 1.15pm before heading off somewhere, never to be seen for the rest of the afternoon. I've been lucky to have seen these mysterious finches three times now. A wonderful sight.

Marsh Tit at Juniper Bottom
Distant view of the Red-throated Diver on the north basin at Staines Reservoir
Marsh Tit was added to my year list here – Juniper Bottom is an ideal spot for them – and then yesterday evening I travelled to Staines Reservoir where I met up with local birder Adrian Luscombe, who kindly helped me locate the Red-throated Diver, seen close by the Great Northern Diver on the north basin, a pair of Common Scoter on the south basin and also two Little Ringed Plover feeding on the west bank edge of the south basin.

Spring officially arrives this weekend, and hopefully so will a few Wheatear. Canons Farm has had one handsome male drop in during the past week. Shouldn't be too long either before a few Ring Ouzel turn up along with the usual migrant suspects.

1 comment:

  1. I wonder how long they will stay Neil? BWP says that winter flocks/roosts stay together until late March - mid April. Birds will often pair up within the flock. There were a lot of 'pairs' breaking off from the main flock and zipping about over the weekend. I might go back for more...