Sunday, 29 October 2017


I had every intention of going birding today. I wanted to take advantage of the ongoing mild weather to get out for a walk but as I sat in the armchair near the living room window munching on a piece of toast and contemplating where to go, two blobs caught my eye at the top of a birch tree 50 meters away. I regularly see things perched up in this tree and immediately knew from the size and posture that these were something different. Incidentally it's not the first time this has happened either. Earlier in the year I was pretty sure I had a bee-eater perched at the top of the same tree but the views only lasted a couple of seconds before it vanished...two days later a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater was seen three miles away in Yarcombe, maybe the mega that got away! But that's another story.

Anyway, back to today...luckily my bins were right at hand and to my surprise I soon discovered the two mystery birds were in fact Hawfinch, a new bird for the garden list and the first I'd seen in over a year. They sat quite happily, calling frequently for about 3 or 4 minutes before flying off out of sight. I'd heard one calling as it flew overhead a couple of days ago but hadn't expected to see one in the village - they are stonking birds.

Hawfinch, one of two, Whitestaunton: R Harris
Best I could manage in the early light.
The garden wasn't finished though. As I set up my scope and dug-in to wait for the Hawfinches to return the familiar call of a Firecrest exploded from the hedge in front of me and there it was, one of my favorite birds, a real gem amongst the foliage and yet another new bird on the garden list! What a start to the day. Although it showed well it was sadly too active to photograph. By now I really didn't want to go anywhere, this was too good to walk away from. Half-an-hour later all the birds went mad and I looked up to see a huge female Peregrine slowly gliding overhead and circling the garden - certainly not a bird I see in Whitestaunton very often at all. I can't remember a day as good as this for scarce birds in the garden, quite amazing.

The lanes around Whitestaunton are
looking great at the moment.
Also found this hornet on its last legs in the garden this afternoon:

European Hornet

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