Block up the car windows with coats and jumpers. Check.
Switch everything off. Check.
Phone on silent. Check.
Two Penguin biscuits and a Jacob’s Club (orange flavour natch) within rustle-free reach for brekky. Check.
Do not move. At all. Check.
Hawfinches are worth shucking off your jim-jams and hitting the road at 0430 for of course, and with superb advice and directions from Rob Pocklington (thanks a million Rob) I was uncomfortably ensconsed in stealth mode 20 feet from the feeding station they visit at the National Trust’s Sizergh Castle in Cumbria by 0630 in the cloudy a.m.
Legs seizing up and not daring to breathe.
These huge yet shy finches kept me waiting hunkered down in my wheels for nearly two and a half hours before two birds dropped in, but the wait was worth it.
Wonderful beasts, but clearly too mad to be birds really, with those massive silver blue bills and a loud, yet at the same time subdued “tik” call straight from another galaxy, as if they were contacting each other in a different dimension.
They dwarfed the Bullfinches, Chaffinches and Nuthatches also coming in.
I shot a piece of video, but even though I wasn’t moving the male could hear the tiny motor hum on my P900 and kept glaring over at me with those crazy crazy eyes.
I didn’t risk the sub-sonic drone of the lens barrel zooming in!
You can watch it on YouTube here if you like.
By 0930 I needed to stretch my legs so left Sizergh and Billy Big-Nose behind and walked up a nearby slope of limestone grassland as the temperatures rose and the sky cleared.
Delighted to find two Early Purple Orchids – not flowering yet, but far enough on to year tick and get my 2021 Orchid Account open (I’m not sure you can count rosettes in winter).
Beautiful even at this stage, they look pretty weird too come to think of it.
Wood Anemone, Cuckooflower and Lesser Celandine galore in the trees below the slope, Chiffchaffs singing and all well with the world.
With glorious weather I decided to avoid the Foulshaw and Leighton Moss honeypots as I figured they’d be busy so called in at another Osprey nest site in South Cumbria, where the male had just flown in to the nest with a big fish, which he proceeded to snarf, leaving just the scabby bits for his mate.
She was not best pleased and saw him off.
Wisely he left still clutching the remains of the catch and scoffed that in a dead pine nearby.
After that interlude I called in at a few of the smaller sites on the way back home, chalking up carpets of Cowslips, Brimstone butterflies and a brilliant Dark-edged Bee Fly (loving the Hummingbird Hawkmoth feeding action and big orange fur coat).
Clearly another critter from another galaxy, and quite possibly a contender for “bird of the day”.
I recognise chasing bugs and blooms when spring migration is still in full flow is liable to get me drummed out of the regiment, although I rather fear that may have happened quite some time ago (ha!).
Bullfinches, Nuthatches and Blackcaps were everywhere, and every slope had a circling pair of Buzzards as I motored home.
Thanks again Rob.