Forget the rarities – what about the hawfinches

Every now and again something extraordinary happens.

We were out birding yesterday on St Mary’s on the Isles of Scilly prior to me catching the Scillonian back to the mainland. We were in Carreg Dhu, an ornamental garden in the middle of the island when a big flock of …. hawfinches flew into the sycamore tree directly above our heads. It was difficult counting them as the foliage obscured them and they came in two groups separated by around 30 seconds. We made an estimate of 24 + birds. 24 +!!

This illustration is from the Collins Bird Guide app – the broad white bands on the underwings were very obvious as were the white tail feathers. By the way the Collins Bird Guide app is highly recommended, it works brilliantly on an iPhone (see here) and there is also an Android version too.

A little later the flock was spotted again by other birders and it was estimated that there were between 50-60 birds in it. By all accounts there were also some flocks of hawfinches on the mainland too.

I doubt very much whether I will every see such a thing again. The UK is currently experiencing some big southerlies so the most likely explanation is that these flocks have come from the Continent.

Here is a photo of a couple of the birds from wildlife photographer, Richard Stonier’s twitter account. You can checkout his gallery of hawfinch photos here.

Even got a great sunset over the Isles of Scilly on the way back to Penzance.

In so many different ways, Scilly never disappoints


A proper twitch – Orphean Warbler

St Agnes yesterday saw a proper twitch – the like of which I haven’t been involved with for over a decade – the Orphean Warbler. Over 200 birders along the track up to Troytown Farm. Fleeting glimpses of the possible bird, several incidences of running about, tripods and telescopes abandoned, moments of dejection, interludes of hilarity and humour. Can you tick a fly past if you have seen it 6 times? No  no  no …

Unexpectedly the bird was relocated by Will Scott hundreds of metres away between the Lighthouse and the Church.  Stampeding, followed by hedge abuse, focusing through postage stamp spaces in the Pittosprorum, heads in the way, polite conversations, impolite conversations, squinting and finally ……


Western or Eastern?

Time will tell but …..



p.s. Thanks Will @dub_birder – without you  no one would have got it. We are now all at 140bpm – well at least we were yesterday for a few moments.

Cedar Waxwing on St Agnes

Back on the Isles of Scilly for a further week! We arrived yesterday and headed over to St Agnes in search of the Cedar Waxwing which is an American vagrant which arrived earlier in the week. We were fortunate that it stayed as the American Cliff Swallow, Red-eyed Vireo and the Rose-breasted Grosbeak had already left.

Got some great views of what had previous proved to be a rather elusive bird.

The 9th record for Britain and Ireland