Wednesday 21 February 2018

Juniper Top/Bramblehall Wood, Richmond and Holmethorpe SPs

I'm not one for whistle-stopping but planned a three-site tour for the day. I started by parking at the Whitehill car park and Mickleham, hearing Hawfinches calling as soon as I opened the car door. Making my way to a reasonable viewpoint over Bramblehall Wood, around 20 birds were showing in the trees on the other side of the jumping field. I began to wonder whether I wasn't quite in the right place for big numbers, and/or was too late, but at 08:35 I looked back at the trees to see them brimming with Hawfinches. I took a quick photo but as soon as I started to try to count the birds they exploded into the air and revealed that the numbers were immense. They disappeared to the east too quickly to get an accurate count, and I was a little too stunned to try to make sense of the numbers but there were easily 300+. Five minutes later, up to 100 more flew in the same direction - at the time I remained cautious and kept the count at 300+ but seeing Steve G's count of 420 the next morning vindicated my true feeling that I had seen in excess of 400 birds. With such a spectacle, the figure is by the by. At least four Marsh Tits were also noted, including a couple of singing birds.


I moved on to Richmond where Franko kindly helped me see the eastern-type Lesser Whitethroat around his garden, along with Tony Q. In the afternoon I picked up Josh B to head to Holmethorpe Sand Pits for an experimental check of the gull roost there, yielding a 2CY Yellow-legged Gull.

eastern Lesser Whitethroat

2CY Yellow-legged Gull