Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Hawfinches at Bramfield Churchyard

6th January 2017

Bramfield churchyard has been a traditional site for wintering Hawfinches for the last several years although numbers scarcely reach double figures and the birds don't arrive until the New Year, normally the second week in January. However this winter, due to the large invasion of this species, birds arrived before Christmas and in much larger numbers with a flock of 16 being seen today.

They are normally quite tricky to photograph as they tend to favour the tall Ash trees in the gardens beyond the churchyard where they are fairly distant and often sillouetted against the sky.

But as always a bit of sun and blue sky helps to bring out the colours and improve resolution.

On occasion they drop down into the Yews in the churchyards to feed on the berries. This can be very frustrating as they can often be seen deep inside the tree, but in almost total darkness. However, with a little patience it is possible to grab a few shots as they pop their head out to see what is going on.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved with Bramfield Church for their interest in the Hawfiches and for allowing birders access to enjoy these amazing birds.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Bramblings and a Hawfinch at The Lodge

28th December 2017

The original purpose for visiting The Lodge today was to try and photograph the Bramblings that had been under the feeders by the entrance, but thought I would start the day with a quick look at Sandy Heath. There was no sign of the large flock of Linnets and Redpolls that normally feed on the seed crop that is specially sown for them, but there were good numbers of Reed Buntings and Yellowhammers in the Broom and marginal trees.

Back at the feeders I broke my own rule of never photographing birds on the feeders themselves, but who can resist a christmas tree of Long-tailed Tits. The Nuthatch was also very active and with a little patience I was able to get a couple of shots on a natural branch.

But now on to the business at hand, the Bramblings. There were only 3-4 birds present but it was mostly the males that came out into the open and provided most opportunities. Photography was a bit tricky as they were continually moving from deep shade, to dappled light to full sun, thereby creating havoc with the camera settings.

After an hour or so with the Bramblings news came in that a female Hawfinch was showing well in the staff car park and with the sun now out this sounded like an ideal opportunity. The bird was feeding on the edge of a Yew tree at a range of 15-20 yards, which is about half of what I normally achieve, and so the next half an hour was spent snapping away until it eventuall flew off.


Over the years I have had some fantastic days at The Lodge and today was no exception, and it will remain at the top of my "places to vist" list.