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.

Tuesday 17 October 2017


Irrupting bird species is a bit of a thing. It happens most years when one species or another decides it is going to migrate en masse across the country and birders en masse get very excited.

In recent years we've had irrupting Waxwing during the winter of 2010-11, then last year it was Yellow-browed Warblers. This past week it has been Hawfinch.

One of the most popular species of finch, the stunning Hawfinch is both alluring and elusive. And it can behave in mysterious ways. In March 2013 Steve Gale found an amazing flock of more than 100 Hawfinch in Juniper Bottom near Box Hill – the stuff of legend. They were like a freak of nature, there were so many of them and they arrived completely out of the blue. No-one could have predicted their arrival.

This current irruption began last week and as the days have progressed it has gathered momentum.

I went up to Headley Heath on Sunday morning and saw very little, whereas six were seen just down the road to the west of me at Juniper Bottom. At the same time to the east, on my local patch at Holmethorpe, Gordon Hay and Ian Kehl saw one fly over the Water Colour complex – it was only the second site record.

Steve Gale got his first sighting on Headley Heath last week and followed up with five on his garden list as he vis-migged yesterday morning. 

Local birders were seeing Hawfinch all over the place. The only local birder who had yet to see one was predictably me.

Storm Orphelia sky at Foreness Point
Rock Pipit
The following morning I was in Margate to take my mum to a hospital appointment and managed to have a quick walk early in the morning along Foreness Point under the Sahara dust-laden Storm Ophelia sky, where I saw a Rock Pipit, a Wheatear and a couple of Stonechat. But no Hawfinch flew overhead.
Three of the six Hawfinch on Headley Heath this afternoon
Then this afternoon Annie and I returned to Headley Heath again for a stroll and all was very quiet. We were walking back to the car when I saw three birds land on top of an oak to my right. They looked quite big but I couldn't make out what they were – until I got my bins on them. HAWFINCH!

I called out to Annie and managed to get a decent view of them for about a minute before they flew off west, along with three others that must have been obscured on the other side of the tree. I reckon they may have been the six originally seen at Juniper Bottom on Sunday.

Wherever they came from it was still an unexpected surprise. It certainly made my day.


  1. I'm so pleased for you Neil - excellent stuff!

    1. Thanks mate - your Dungeness Goldfinch swarm sounds amazing. What is it with you and huge flocks of birds, particularly finches? You seem to be a magnet for them!

  2. Thanks for sharing this amazing pictures of finches, i am made to believe that you tend to atract more birds, of which s a good thing as you keep sharing your swam.Keep up well mate.

  3. Apprreciate this blog post