Thursday, 17 February 2011

Only 10 days left for winter atlasing

We're now in the final straight with only 2 weekends left to complete our ttvs and get in as many roving records as possible. There are still many common species to be found in most squares which have recorded less than 85 species so why not look at the map below and visit one of them if you get the chance. I'm down to my last 2 ttvs now, both in TF57 and doing a beached bird survey there on 26 Feb. Hopefully I'll find some roving records of missing common waders while walking the tide wrack.
But where did I see the bird above?
I have to confess I sloped off this last few days down to the Dordogne area of south west France with Rob Carr and Andy Sims. The starbirds were 2 Wallcreepers but for me the most memorable birds were the Hawfinches. I've seen small flocks of less than 10 Hawfinches twice in Lincs at Scunthorpe Crematorium in 1986 and Scawby in 2005. They are now very scarce and apart from coastal migrants I'm only aware of 1 record in the winter and summer periods in Lincs from 2007 onwards.

In France we had flocks of up to several hundred in the oaks above our head and I was amazed to hear how like an excited murmuration of starlings they sounded with their metallic ringing tick calls multiplied by many (large) beaks. I'd forgotten how chunky and tail less they look in flight and the whiteness of their tails tips which varies consideably in extent from bird to bird. It was fascinating to see them interacting and feeding and their amazing ability to pick an invisible perching position in leafless trees, which Andy's digiscoped image above clearly shows. When you can only see a couple of birds in a tree its always amazing when 10 fly out!

They are hard to find if you are not familiar with the call and especially when trees are in leaf but it seems Hawfinches are genuinely in big trouble in the UK while stable or increasing in Netherlands and France. The current atlas will reveal more about the position in England and if anyone can add records to the atlas please submit them as roving records. Are they still around in the NW Lincs/Scunthorpe area and why aren't they in the better woodlands in the SW of the county?


  1. Hi,
    My dad had a Hawfinch in his garden in Grasby about 2 years ago. I hadn't realised they were so scarce in Lincolnshire or we'd have put in a record. I can find out a better date for you, if necessary.
    Jenny McMahon

  2. Just to add - he did get photos so would be fairly easy to show it was a Hawfinch.