A fine, crisp clear morning down at Marshside today, with a nippy northerly blowing, a Cetti’s Warbler spluttering and a Water Rail shrieking from the SSSI ditch as I settled down at the Hesketh Road platform.
Pinkies dropping onto Marshside One, amongst the Ruff, Lapwings and Blackwits, while the local Buzzards got serious Magpie hassle.
Small groups of Starlings were heading north, and a Migrant Hawker was still just below the platform.
All felt well.
Things got much better though at 10.45am when I heard a sharp call and got my bins on six big pale brown fat lumps heading north in the sun just to our left – bull heads, dirty great bills, a pale flash at the base of dark primaries and stumpy rear ends as they bounded north and away – HAWFINCHES!
Luckily I got Big Hairy Dave and the splendid Colette (you can see someone about those dragonfly dreams you know) onto them before they disappeared over the willows of the SSSI ditch and out of sight.
A loud sharp call had alerted me to them (the blog entry header is the best way I can describe it), but they uttered another call too, which was hard to describe, kind of like a muted Crossbill if that makes sense.
I’d certainly not heard Hawfinches do that before.
I checked the Collins Guide on my phone… the call was related as “the sound made by jabbing a spike into solid granite”.
This was undeniably colourful, but as I lacked a spike or a block of granite, it wasn’t much use.
The current national influx of this superb finch is one of the biggest and most mahoosive ever apparently, but I wish I could have seen these beauties perched up.
I put the news out (Tropical Thomason had three Hawfinches over the golf course a short time later) and headed up to Nels Hide, where a scabby male Goldeneye was diving away and one of the Long Billed Dowitchers was snoozing, preening and then snoozing again.
Good ‘scope views, but too far away for me to get anything other than a baaad blobby picture – as these shots prove only too well.
The Cattle Egrets (I saw at least five today) were messing about up in the corner by Marshside Road, and a Little Stint popped up as the air warmed with the vision of a flock of 100+ Golden Plover coming in to rest in the hard sun.
There were a few Goldcrests around the Sandplant and small groups of Pied Wags were on the move.
Two flocks of small bouncy finches jerked about over the beach north of the pier and a short while later off Weld Rd, at about 1.30pm, and may have been Twite back in for the winter, but I was trundling along in the Sunday pm traffic by this time, heading back to Dempsey Towers for a spot of autumnal slash and burn…. I’ll get back to them during the shorter days to come I’m sure.