An old friend of mine from my time in the smoke had asked me several times to show him Hawfinch and coincidentally he now works just down the road in Lower Parkstone but lives up the other side of Salisbury. With good numbers of these beasts up at Romsey and with it being roughly equidistant for us to travel we arranged to meet there at 10. I got there a bit before that as having never been there before I wanted to suss out the area as directions have always been a bit vague - well non-existent. In the event it was all rather straight forward, and this link shows where the birds are
Within a minute of getting out of the car a couple of birds flew over and alighted in some tall trees. I headed back to the car to get my scope and wait for my friend who duly arrived shortly after.
Initially views weren't ideal but after a while we managed to get great views (not looks, as I'm not American!) but with dull light it wasn't easy photographing them. I tried to get some flight shots but should have upped the ISO as none turned out sharp, but here's three rubbish ones which I think put across the jizz of the birds quite well.
I really wish this last shot was sharp but it shows the blue on the secondaries quite well (if you squint!).
I noticed a couple of birds land about 20 foot up in a tree quite nearby so I stealthily approached and managed to get some half decent shots but it was impossible to get an angle where they were completely unobstructed. It didn't help when an elderly couple, in beautiful bright blue matching coats, walked up to me and asked if I had seen any Hawfinch. Oddly enough these two birds quickly flew and I doubt they would have seen them anyway with a pair of bins that looked like they'd come out of a Christmas cracker!
My friend had said that he would like to try and see Waxwing too and I hadn't told him that five had been seen nearby yesterday as I wasn't sure if they were hanging around or not. A local birder then appeared and told us that there were in fact 35 Waxwing just a few hundred yards away so very content with our Hawfinch views (at least 15 birds) we made our way along the stream to where they were. As we got there a Sparrowhawk whizzed through spooking the birds up into an alder but at least it gave us the chance to hear the beautiful trilling call of these birds.
Slowly the birds started to come back to the berry bush by the small wooden bridge at the end of Mercer Way. I managed to get a few shots I was happy with but still await those perfect shots in nice bright sunlight.
Happy with our morning's twitching we sought somewhere for a cuppa. We struck gold with somewhere in Romsey called "That little tea shop" (48A The Hundred, Romsey, SO51 8BX) and a delicious Full English was duly wolfed down. Better still I didn't have to pay as my friend was so happy with finally seeing Hawfinch.
We then headed off in our respective directions and as there were no hold-ups on the way back I had time to pop into Longham Lakes to have a look for the Tundra Bean Goose. A quick in and out job as the 3 Bean Geese were easily located to the west of the causeway in the company of several Mute and two Bewick's Swan. To carry on with the theme in this post of truly awful shots here are some record shots - note to people with expensive cameras and mega-lenses - these are what most normal people consider record shots!
A heavy crop of the Tundra Bean Geese.
I've been to Longham Lakes twice now and both times it has reminded me of many a happy hour spent on Staines Res causeway in the early 80's in that the wind chill makes it feel colder than the Arctic!
I will try and post about my shiny new patch Swineham at some point - promise!