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WEATHER;  atrocious for most of the day, we drove through heavy rain and strong winds. A couple of hours were dry in the afternoon. Temp 5C

Guy Campbell picked me up at 6am this morning and drove us all the way to Lynford Arboretum in terrible driving conditions, it was very slow going on the M3 & M25 but eased off on the A1(M) it didn’t get light until after 8:30am.

We saw 3 species over the first 100 miles, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow and Red Kite, then we saw a Cormorant near Heathrow Airport and more corvids as we made it onto the A1(M). After a coffee stop we drove the next hour to Lynford where we sat in the car, reluctant to get out into the cold and rain.

We ate our picnic lunch and then ventured out, miraculously the rain stopped as we walked down to the famous ‘paddocks’ to look for Hawfinches. We noted Chaffinch, Blue, Coal and Great Tits, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Nuthatch and Siskins as we past pine woodland and a few feeders. It was cold out there in the breeze but we persevered, we found Mistle Thrush, Redwings, Jay, Common Buzzard, Magpie and more finches, but not the Hawfinch. Apparently only one bird, a male, had been seen this year! We had a fat chance of finding it!

The paddock with hornbeam trees at Lynford Arboretum

After almost an hour we decided to call it quits with no sign of any Hawfinches, we watched the feeders and got a nice surprise when a Marsh Tit appeared and then a large flock of Siskins decided to drop in and start feeding in the nearby Alder Trees.

some of the 50+ Siskins feeding in the Alder Trees

Before we left we decided to spend five more minutes scanning the Hornbeam trees in the paddock and lo and behold, a male HAWFINCH, appeared. Wowza!! It was very distant, but unmistakably, a Hawfinch.

record shot of the Hawfinch

We walked back to the car in a jubilant mood, before driving off we treated ourselves to a hot chocolate at the  café.

It was approaching 2pm and we still had an hour’s drive to our hotel, so we decided to stop off at Royden Common to look for any Harriers they may drop into the roost. Along the way we added Common Pheasant, Red-legged Partridge, a few gulls and lots of Jackdaws and Rooks to our small list of species.

At Royden we enjoyed the gathering of Red Kites over a distant wood, obviously a roost site, we counted 16 in the sky at one time. More impressive was the huge flocks of Jackdaws, I have never seen so many in a gathering before today. There must have 500-800 birds!!

We also noted Common Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk but we never saw a Harrier, it was getting dark as we left. Our destination was Hunstanton which was a further 15 miles away. At 4:30pm we arrived at our hotel and checked in, our bird log had a count of 36 species for the day and a running yearly total of 132.