10th February 2012 - New Forest

If you've read the previous posts, you'll remember me mentioning the great Dominic Couzens.  We had had a nosey on his website and noticed that he was leading a walk in the New Forest, a 'Finch Safari'.  As we were rather lacking on Finches, we decided to take the day off work and go along.  It was still snow covered, making the Forest look even more beautiful than usual.  After a feeding frenzy in the car park, the first ten minutes of the walk was slightly lacking in wildlife apart from a small flock of Roe Deer (the first we'd ever seen) and seven rather lost Skylarks.  It soon looked up though as I got my first lifer for the day, one I'd been anxious to see for a long, long time - a Crossbill!  We were provided with excellent views as it perched on the top of a tree and also of a female who came (unusually) towards us then disappeared into the middle of the tree - Dominic thinks she may have had a nest in there.  A few Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were spotted in a more tree heavy area further along, after we'd been deluged with lots of Crossbill - I was extremely happy.  Stuart was still on his lookout for his target for the day - a Hawfinch.

Where are the Hawfinch?!
This wasn't to appear anytime soon though, but I spotted a Treecreeper which cheered him up a bit!  A lifer for me was spotted on the roadside as we travelled to the next place, a Mistle Thrush.  Stuart had already had one of these with Jono a couple of weeks before.  We headed down into a set of trees to look for Bramblings.  Unfortunately I'm pretty useless if things look very similar so it took me a very long time to see one, even with precise instructions from Dominic and other members of the group - 'But they all just look like blinking Chaffinch!'.  An unexpected and rather good spot in this area was a Tawny Owl sleeping in a hollow in a tree. 


Another was a Marsh Tit - another lifer for the both of us.  Eventually we headed round to the last area of the walk where the Hawfinch were known to go before roosting.  I, as ever, got bored standing around and headed off to look to see if I could find a Woodpecker of some sort.  After a while I spotted an unusual bird with a huge chunky beak...could it be?!  As I stood looking at it, I was whistled over to the rest of the group - they'd also spotted another of the same on a different tree.  It was the elusive Hawfinch!  Needless to say, Stuart was elated. 

In his full birding regalia.

1) Blue Tit
2) Chaffinch
3) Pied Wagtail
4) Lesser Black-backed Gull
5) Black-headed Gull
6) Herring Gull
7) Fieldfare
8) Mallard
9) Moorhen
10) Redwing
11) Meadow Pipit
12) Bullfinch
13) Skylark
14) Crossbill - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
15) Blackbird
16) Lesser Redpoll
17) Siskin
18) Robin
19) Great Tit
20) Jay
21) Treecreeper
22) Greater Spotted Woodpecker
23) Coal Tit
24) Nuthatch
25) Buzzard
26) Mistle Thrush - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
27) Carrion Crow
28) Tawny Owl
29) Brambling - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
30) Marsh Tit - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
31) Sparrowhawk
32) Hawfinch - NEW FOR LIFE LIST!
33) Long-tailed Tit
34) Goldcrest
35) Greenfinch

My year list for 2012 comes to 100.

I thought this was pretty adorable.


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