Thursday 11 January 2018

Hawfinches in Exeter, Devon

Wednesday 10th January and I decided to head to Exwick Cemetery in Exeter to look for hawfinches which have been showing here for a couple of weeks following the eruption into the UK from The Continent last autumn. It was a bright and sunny but chilly day with little breeze and the train journey to Exeter went smoothly with views from the train of fulmars flying around the cliffs near Teignmouth and Herbert the Slavonian grebe off Cockwood on the River Exe.

I arrived at the cemetery just before 11am and wandering around I managed to find a pair of great spotted woodpeckers, goldcrests, greenfinch, chaffinch, long tailed tits and a male pheasent with a green woodpecker heard yaffling.

Eventually I managed to track down the hawfinches feeding in the tree tops at the top end of the cemetery, at least 3 birds but probably more as they were wary and mobile and difficult to keep track of amongst the branches of the trees. I watched them for around 90 minutes and at times had some great views of them as they fed on various seeds in the tree tops, very charismatic and distinctive looking birds and lovely to obseve here in Devon.

 Hawfinch - another "quality" record shot





I walked back to Exeter St.Davids train station and caught the train to Dawlish Warren for a quick loook around, bumping into  Warren Watcher Lee near the train station who informed me that a long tailed duck was showing well at the mouth of the Exe and so I decided to head off there first. I eventually found the bird diving close offshore along with 3 great northern divers, a presumed immature male bird with pink markings on its bill.

Back at the main pond a female shoveler, a little grebe and 2 snipe were showing well but there was no sign of the recent Jack snipe although water levels were much higher than on my visit in December.



A quick look offshore from the lifeguard hut and a red throated diver was busily diving quite close in while further offshore great crested grebes were spread across the bay and a distant auk species was seen resting amongst the waves.

Heading back to Plymouth and the trains ran smoothly again and it had been a very enjoyable day out indeed.

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